The Moon, in addition to being our natural satellite, is also one of the most interesting and striking natural phenomena that can be observed in the night sky. This makes it a source of fascination for both children and adults but, in the specific case of children, it is also very interesting because of the changes that are observed on the Moon as the days go by and its phases change.
Explain what the Moon is to the children
Before starting to explain to children how the phases of the Moon work , it is important that they have a mental map of what the Moon is and how it is related to the rest of the celestial bodies in the Solar System. In this sense, it is important for children to understand the structure of the Solar System , in addition to understanding which bodies emit light and which do not.
To explain this, the most efficient thing to do is to do it through a diorama or model of the Solar System , since it allows us to understand perfectly, not only the celestial bodies, but also the orbits of some with respect to others. If you do not have a mobile model, you can always opt for diagrams in books or even videos on the Internet that also allow you to understand the orbits of some celestial bodies around each other.
In addition, once they better understand what this natural satellite is and its phases, you will be able to explain more curiosities such as, for example, why the moon has holes .
Once the children have understood the basic structure of the Solar System, they will be in a position to explain to them what is the structure that makes the Moon sometimes look complete and sometimes not. To do this, the easiest thing is to explain this operation from a lamp and a round piece of fruit , for example, an orange.
To do this, it will be enough to place the lamp, the orange and the child to whom it is going to be explained in a straight line with respect to each other. Next, the adult, who will be the one holding the orange, will “orbit” it around the child. In this way, the child will observe how the lighting perceived on the orange will change depending on the angle it is at. That is, the same thing happens with the Moon. In this experiment, the lamp would represent the Sun, the child for the planet Earth, and the orange for the Moon .
Now, once the child has understood the structure of the Solar System and the operation behind the illumination or not of the surface of the Moon, they will be in a position to explain the names of each of the phases of the Moon. . Although each of them can be explained, the easiest thing will be to start with the four main ones , which the child will be able to identify perfectly:
- First quarter: this phase of the Moon is identified with a Moon that is half light and half dark. It is called crescent because the light side is “growing” which, as it is the one that is seen, is always the one that is taken as a reference.
- Full Moon: it is the easiest to identify of all the phases of the Moon. At this time, the Moon is in a position where, from the Earth, the entire surface illuminated by sunlight is perfectly visible.
- Last quarter: this phase is identified as being the same as the first quarter but in reverse. In this case, half of the lunar surface also appears illuminated and the other half dark. However, the sides are the opposite of what they were in the waxing quarter phase, since, in this case, the illuminated part is dwindling.
- New Moon: in this case, it is a Moon that cannot be seen, since it is just the opposite opposition to the one it was when it was in the full Moon position. In this way, the new Moon is identified with a Moon that can only be sensed in the sky, since the entire surface that we see from Earth corresponds to the dark part of the Moon.