The Sun, Moon, and Stars Lesson Plan

One of our most popular learning objectives on the Legends platform is The Sun, Moon, and Stars: Patterns of Apparent Motion. Keep reading to find the Sun, Moon, and Stars lesson plan, and download it for free!

The Sun, Moon, and Stars Lesson Plan

Learning Objective:​ The Sun, Moon & Stars – Patterns Of Apparent Motion

NGSS Standard

MS-ESS1.A-1 ​ Patterns of the apparent motion of the sun, the moon, and stars in the sky can be observed, described, predicted, and explained with models.


Students will be able to:

  1. Explain the locations of the Earth, moon and sun and describe their relationship
  2. Explain the movements of the Earth, moon and sun by developing models
  3. Explain the different phases of the moon by manipulating models

Time Required

90 minutes

Lesson Getting Ready

Materials Needed:

  • Teacher computer with internet access and projector
  • Student computers/laptop/tablet with internet access (preferably one per student but at least enough for small groups of 3 -4 students)
  • Plastic spoons
  • Oreo cookies (or a like substitute)
  • Black Sharpie pens and colored magic markers
  • Construction paper
  • Paper towels

Teacher Preparation

  • Create Playlist 1, a 10 minute playlist in Legends of Learning with the following game found in “The Sun, Moon and Stars: patterns of Apparent Motion” objective page: Apparent Motion: Orbital Command
  • Create Playlist 2, a 20 minute playlist in Legends of Learning with the following game found in “The Sun, Moon and Stars: patterns of Apparent Motion” objective page: Sun Shooter
  • Separate Oreo cookies, Sharpies and plates for each group (at least 8 cookies per group)

Introduce Topic

Engage: 10 min

  1. The teacher will play the video “5F Sun, Earth Moon The Science Video”

  1. As students watch the video, they will write 3 or more new facts that they learned about the earth, moon, and sun in their science journal
  2. The teacher then leads a discussion about the video and the relationship between the sun, moon and Earth
  3. The teacher will instruct students to answer 3 questions from the video.
    • How many days does it take for the moon to orbit Earth? (28 days​)
    • How many days does it take Earth to orbit the sun? (365 ¼ days​)
    • How many hours does it take for Earth to complete one rotation on its axis? (24 hours​)

Explore: 10 min

  1. Students will sign in to Legends of Learning and enter your teacher code
  2. Teacher will launch Playlist 1
  3. Students will complete Apparent Motion: Orbital Command as the teacher assists students as needed. Stopping game play to address the questions asked in the game may be needed.

Expand On The Lesson

Explain: 10 min

  1. The teacher will demonstrate the orbital and rotational relationship of the Earth, moon and sun by having students in groups of three demonstrate this concept using their bodies to represent each celestial body. If there is limited room in the classroom, the teacher can simply demonstrate this with one group of three students by moving desks enough to clear a space large enough for the demonstration. Optimally, the teacher will be able to use hallway space so several groups can demonstrate this concept. Each group will get a sheet with the following diagram, which demonstrates direction of rotation. (see Appendix A in the lesson plan)
  2. As students demonstrate the rotational movements, the teacher assists students as needed as well as pausing the activity to ask questions to assess knowledge.
    • a. In which direction does the Earth rotate on its axis? Does the Earth rotate in the same direction as the Moon? as the Sun? i. The Earth rotates counter-clockwise on its axis. Yes, yes.
    • b. Does the moon orbit around the Sun or the Earth? Why does the moon orbit where it does? i. The Moon orbits around the Earth. This is because of its proximity to the Earth. Although the Sun has a greater gravitational effect due to its size, the moon is close enough to the Earth so that it is caught in its gravitational pull.
    • c. What is a solar eclipse and how does one form? i. A solar eclipse is when the sun is blocked, either partially or fully, by the moon. This occurs when the Moon’s orbit causes it to pass between the Earth and the Sun.

Elaborate & Evaluate

Apparent motion of the sun, moon, and stars.

Elaborate: 40 min

  1. Students will separate into small groups (three or four)
  2. The teacher hands each group a zip-lock bag with at least 8 Oreo cookies and plastic spoon, a blank piece of construction paper and markers.
  3. The teacher then hands each group a sheet with the following diagrams: (see Appendix B in the lesson plan
  4. Using the information on these sheets, students will construct a moon phase chart on the construction paper using the Oreos with various amounts of icing scraped off to represent the various lunar phases. The cookies are then arranged in a linear fashion on the construction paper to mimic the eight phases of the moon. The markers will be used to draw representations of the sun, Earth, directional arrows and titles of each lunar phase. A student example is provided below.

sun, moon and stars lesson plan

Evaluate: 20 min

    1. Launch Playlist 2 for students
    2. Students will play Sun Shooter and be assessed on their ability to answer the questions provided in the game correctly
    3. The teacher will analyze student results to determine what concepts need to be a focus for reteaching


Download the free lesson plan here! 


Possible Extension Activity

Have students participate in the World MOON Project, a globally collaborative project that allows students all over the world to observe and report on lunar phases.

Get more Free Lesson Plans for Educators!

Lesson Plans | Teaching

Lunar Phases Lesson Plan

With next week’s full moon approaching quickly and school just back in session, we decided to share our a lesson plan for our Lunar Phases learning objective. The accompanying learning objective has eight games in total, so check them out.

Lunar Phases Lesson Plan Objective

Students will be able to:

  • Name the phases of the moon and identify them based on a model.
  • Identify which phase of the moon occurs in various locations in its orbit around Earth.
  • Describe why only one side of the moon is visible from Earth.


Time Required:
65 minutes

Materials Needed:

  • Teacher with computer/internet access
  • 1 computer/laptop/iPad per student with internet access
  • Styrofoam cups (9 per group)
  • Black marker
  • Blue marker
  • Phases of the Moon Worksheet

Teacher Preparation

  1. 1. Create Playlist 1, a 30 minute playlist, in Legends of Learning with the following game found in Lunar Phases: Lunar Wolves, and Ms. Rose and Lunar Phases.
  2. 2. Create Playlist 2, a 10-minute playlist in Legends of Learning with 5 assessment questions from the Lunar Phases learning objective.
  3. 3. Prepare 9 styrofoam cups (1 set of 9 per group) by coloring in the bottoms to represent the lunar phases. Use the blue marker to completely color the bottom of the ninth cup to represent the Earth.
  4. 4. Make copies of the Phases of the Moon Worksheet (available on the PDF version of this lesson plan) for each student.

Engage (5 minutes)

  1. 1. Students are divided into groups of 4-5. Each group is given a set of 9 cups. The bottoms of the cups are shaded with marker to represent the various lunar phases. The blue cup is the Earth.
  2. 2. Groups are instructed to place the blue cup in the center (bottom up) and surround the “Earth” with the cups showing the lunar phases in what they think is the correct order.
  3. 3. Students will keep their model on their table to be revisited later after playing the games.

Explore (30 minutes)

  1. 1. Hand out the Phases of the Moon Worksheet to each student.
  2. 2. Have students sign into Legends of Learning and enter your teacher code.
  3. 3. Launch Playlist 1 to the students.
  4. 4. Pass out the Phases of the Moon Worksheet.
  5. 5. While students are working through this game they will complete the worksheet.

Explain (15 minutes)

  1. 1. Students will get back together in their groups from the Engage activity and re-arrange their phases of the moon model based on the new knowledge they have gained.
  2. 2. Teacher will check that each group has an accurate model prior to moving on.
  3. 3. Teacher will review the answers to the Phases of the Moon Worksheet by drawing diagrams on the board. Teacher will ask students to come to the board and shade in what the moon looks like for each of the phases.

Elaborate (5 minutes)

    1. 1. Explain to students that no matter when we look at the moon, we are always seeing the same side of the moon. On Earth, we never see “the dark side” of the moon.
    2. 2. Show this video to students to help them understand the reason why:

  1. 3. Ask students: How do we know what is on the other side of the moon?

(Answer: Satellites have been sent to take pictures of the other side of the moon so we know what it looks like.)

Evaluate (10 minutes)

  1. 1. Launch Playlist 2 to your students. When they finish the assessment questions, any time left is freeplay.
  2. 2. Analyze student results to determine what concepts need to be a focus for reteaching.
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