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LESSON PLAN #1 :  THE MOON CHANGES   (Grades Pre-K – 2)





Jack and Jill and the Man in the Moon was inspired by an ancient Scandinavian sky legend that explained the waxing and waning moon and served as the basis for the Jack and Jill nursery rhyme. When people look at the patterns of light and dark on the lunar surface, some see a man, some see a rabbit or a toad or an animal of some sort, and some see two children. In ancient Sweden, these children where Hjuki and Bil, translated over time as Jack and Jill. Jack and Jill leave their farmhouse in a glen and climb a hill to fetch a pail of water from a well. When the moon sees them, he swoops them into the sky to become his companions.


There are different versions of the legend. In perhaps the most popular one, Mani, the Moon god, drives the children across the sky in his chariot. In Jack and Jill and the Man in the Moon, the children climb a rainbow bridge to get there. In the legends and in this picture book, the children’s shadows can be seen on the surface of the full Moon, and the children’s appearance and disappearance from the surface explains the lunar phases. In the nursery rhyme, Jack and Jill fill their pail with moon water, and they tumble back down to Earth; in Jack and Jill and the Man in the Moon, the children are granted the magic moondew from a kindly Mister Moon, and they slide down the rainbow bridge and water the fields.


PREPARE  (instructions below)
Poster of Lunar Phases 
Moon Phase Puzzles (one for each child)



Who knows the story of Jack and Jill? (Confirm: Jack and Jill is a famous nursery rhyme that was written a long time ago.)

Does anyone know how it begins?  (Confirm: “Jack and Jill went up the hill to fetch a pail of water.”)

Tell students that there was another story about Jack and Jill too, and it was also told a long time ago. It told about Jack and Jill climbing a hill to fetch a pail of water, but it was also about the Moon.

A long time ago people didn’t know a lot about the Moon, like we do today. They didn’t know what it was or how it moved in the sky. But they saw it in the sky, and they saw that it looked different on different days. Sometimes it was a bright round ball, and sometimes it wasn’t in the sky at all. It seemed to grow larger and larger, and then get smaller and smaller, and then larger and larger again. They couldn’t explain it. So it seemed like magic! And they told stories about the magic moon. A long time ago, people told all kinds of stories about the magic moon and why it changed in the sky.

Reading of Jack and Jill and the Man in the Moon, by Tamra Andrews


“Where did Jack and Jill get the water?” (Confirm: Mister Moon gave them magic moondew)

Moondew isn’t real. It’s something that the author made up because it sounded like magic water that might come from the sky.

Dew is real, though. Dew kind of like rain because it comes from the air. Rain and dew provide water for the earth that helps the plants grow, just like the moondew did in Jack and Jill.


In the story, why did Mister Moon change shape? What made him shrink and disappear? What made him grow full again?  (Confirm: When Mister Moon filled Jack and Jill’s pail, he drained himself of the moondew and shrunk from a full, round ball to a thin crescent. Then he slipped out of sight. And then he grew larger and larger when he filled up with dew again.


The Moon doesn’t really get smaller and larger. The full moon is always the same. But sometimes we only see part of it. The part we see is lit by the Sun. The other part is in the darkness. The moon doesn’t light by itself. It’s made of rock. But when the Sun shines on the Moon, it lights up. Sometimes the Sun shines on all of the Moon, and sometimes it shines on only a part of it.


Use the Poster of Lunar Phases to show how the moon changes. (see below)

Add the blue felt pieces one by one, completing the cycle. As you add them, name each phase of the moon.

Point out that a new moon is completely dark. Explain that it’s still there, but we can’t see it because the part that is lit by the Sun is facing away from the Earth.


Explain that when the Moon looks like it’s getting smaller, we say that the Moon is waning and that when it looks like its growing larger, we say that the Moon is waxing.


Use “waxing” and “waning” as both verbs as adjectives. (The Moon is waning; A waning moon)

Explain that it takes one month for the Moon to go from full, to dark, to full again.

Link to the book, retelling the last pages of the story. The children return from their home when the Moon is dark. Then they watch the Moon grow full again, and then they return to the Palace of the Moon the next month to fill up their pail with the magic water again.



Hand out Moon Phase Puzzles.

Moon Phase Poster

Glue a blue poster board onto an art frame or something that will provide a sturdy backing.

Cut out 8 circles out of gray construction paper, each  6  3/4 inches in diameter. 

Glue the circles onto the posterboard and label the phases, as shown below.
(From top, in a clockwise direction: full moon, waning crescent, first quarter, waning gibbous, new moon, waxin)g gibbous, third quarter, waning gibbous)

Cut out two crescents, two half-circles, and two three-quarter circles from blue foam board.

As you teach the poster, place the blue moon pieces onto the gray circles as follows. Moon pieces can be attached with tape or Velcro.


As appropriate for learning level, moons can be left unmarked, or marked to show the divisions of the pieces.

JACK AND JILL_Moon Phase Poster.jpg

Moon Phase Puzzles


For each puzzle:

One  8 X 10 piece of gray construction paper

One  8 X 10 piece of light blue foam board

Dark blue and gray foam board for moon pieces

Cut circles out of the foam board to show the cycle of moons.

Glue the foam board with the cutouts onto the construction paper.

Cut out moon shapes to fill the moons (dark blue for dark parts, gray for light parts).  Begin by cutting full circles   inches in diameter, and then cut into parts from there.

Moon Phase Puzzles.jpg
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