One of the hardest science concepts to teach well is moon phases and patterns in the sky. It’s a 4th grade science standard here in Texas and it’s tested on our 5th grade science STAAR test. Every year my kids struggle with this. Every. Stinking. Year. Last week I noticed my father-in-law had a digital clock that also showed the current moon phase. I’d never seen such magic. After resisting the urge to “borrow” it, I headed to Amazon to find one of my own, and I found something better–Uncle Milton’s Moon In My Room (On sale and I only paid $15.99!). It’s pretty much as described. A model of the moon for your room that you can control with a remote. Here’s a video you can watch so you can see for yourself how spectacular this gadget is.
What I like and how I plan to use it:
- The plastic moon is 3D, bumpy, and looks pretty realistic. We’ll have to pass it around so the kids can feel the surface.
- It’s easy to use. You push a button on the remote to change phases and you can cycle through several times to help the kids see the pattern (much more important than just memorizing phase names). Or, you can push the automatic button and the moon will cycle through all phases on its own.
- I think we’ll hang a chart beside the moon for the kids to use to help identify the phases, then turn off the lights and quiz ourselves to practice. Waxing gibbous, first quarter, waning crescent…oh the fun we’ll have!
- Students can draw the moon they see at night in their moon journals, and we’ll match our classroom moon to the current moon phase.
What I don’t like:
- The model moon lights up. This is only a problem because I worry my students will think the real moon makes it’s own light. Not true. This is a perfect opportunity to introduce the limitations of models to students. Teachable moment!
- I will probably lose the remote and it won’t work without it.
I’ll come back and post an update in a few weeks to let you know what my students think. If you’re looking for more Shut Up and Take My Money posts on cool things to buy for your classroom, hop on over and read about the Amazing Moving Plant and the Circuit Scribe.
–The Pensive Sloth
***NOTE–I was NOT paid and am not affiliated with any of the above groups. I’m just a teacher-consumer interested in new tools to make learning fun for my students!***