Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Moon Phases Felt Board

Update: Our Moon Phases Felt Board is now available in our Etsy store!

This post contains affiliate links.

A few months ago I had created a lesson plan for each week of the year with a theme in mind. But since my kids are just as much space cadets as I am, we quickly diverted and did our own thing. However, I kept the lesson plan handy and knew I could always look back on it when I needed a quick idea for some theme or topic to teach the kids about. Now we are gradually going back to the lesson plans, but are turning them into activities similar to unit studies. These are not complete unit studies, since my kids are still young. So I have modified the activities to better suit their age range (2.5-4). They also learn differently, so I try to incorporate different aspects into each activity (visual, auditory, kinesthetic, etc). 

I was unable to catch any pictures of the kinesthetic part of the activity because I was acting as the sun. I apologize! My daughter wanted to be earth and my son wanted to be the moon. I stood nearby acting as the sun (waving my arms occasionally to demonstrate solar flares) and held a large yellow circle of felt. My daughter stood away from me holding the felt earth (pictured below on the felt board) and my son stood beside her holding the moon (full moon, pictured below). I explained that the moon rotates around the planet earth each day, but is always facing the earth the same way (we never do see the dark side of the moon!). Munchkin practiced walking around Bean (this is a great way to work on gross motor skills while learning!), trying to always face her. Then I explained that while the moon is rotating around earth, earth was rotating around the sun and turned all the way around, but that it would take a whole year to go completely around the sun! She was bug eyed and said, "wow, that's a whole lot!" Then she began to walk very slowly around me while Munchkin pretty much skipped around her. He loves spinning around, so he was ecstatic about this activity! I told them more about rotation and how the earth tilts on its axis during certain times of the year. Bean was fascinated and said, "that's why it's so cold out!" Because the earth is tilted away from the sun right now. And that's also why it gets darker earlier in the evening. She really does love learning things like that, it's amazing! But fair warning, spinning kids usually trip and fall if they don't have plenty of space to move, so we cleared out a big area in our living room for this activity. 

I also printed off several different pictures of planets, moon phases (including one where you trace the phase by connecting the letters that spell the phase of the moon), and astronauts. I wanted these pictures to be ones that they could enjoy colouring several times (and since they are obsessed with markers right now!), so I decided to laminate all of these pages. It does mean that I have to remember to clean them off quickly after they are finished, but that's fine. It's worth it because they have coloured these pages several times this week! Bean really loves the pictures of the planets and Munchkin loves the astronauts! We used these Crayola Dry Erase Washable Markers. After we finish our solar system unit I'll write a post detailing all of the materials and printables that we used. 

My little guy sure does love blue. :)

Anyways, on to the felt board! (And just a heads up, the whole solar system is coming next!)

I started by deciding what size I wanted the sun, earth and moon to be. Please note that the pieces are not proportional. I basically just found three circular objects that fit perfectly on our black felt board. I traced out one end of a large sun to fit on the left side of the board. I traced out a medium circle in blue and green for the earth. Then I traced out four white circles and one black circle for the moon phases. One white circle was used for the full moon, the second was cut in half to be the quarter moons, and the third and forth circles I cut crescents out of and the remaining pieces were used for the gibbous'. I totally forgot to take pictures of the moon phases as they were being cut out! So sorry! I actually made two batches because I initially cut out too many white circles...

For the earth, I made sure the blue and green circles lined up.

I drew a very rough sketch of the land masses using a disappearing ink fabric pen on the green fabric (can you tell I'm running out? that's how much I use this pen..). Then I cut them out.

I checked that everything fit nicely.

When I was satisfied with their placement I began gluing them using an Elmer's Glue Pen. I squeeze the glue into a paint dish because I actually use a plastic paint brush to apply the glue, so that it is even and doesn't soak through the felt.

And here is what the felt board looks like when it is complete! I am so happy with the way it came out! The little voice in my head tells me I should make the moon phases more durable, either by gluing them to a black circle or by gluing them to a matching piece so they are twice as wide... But I  don't know! My kids are so used to being gentle with their felt pieces that I may just be worrying too much.

Bean was in love with the felt planet earth! She loved that the land masses "pop out of the ocean" and thought it was so neat that she could feel where the land was. She asked what each continent was named and then I showed her approximately where we live.

"That's where Santa lives, right?" The North Pole. :) And she tried to feel the ocean to see if there were any waves... sadly there weren't any. :(

We used Moon Phase 3 part cards to go along with our felt board. (I will provide links to the cards in my solar system unit study post.) Because these cards are laminated, they would not stick to a felt board, hence why the board is flat on the table. We used the word labels to show what each phase of the moon was called. Bean used the control cards to place each name based on the picture. She does really well with activities like this.

She also arranged the cards in order starting with the full moon.

Munchkin wanted to match the felt moon phases to the cards so we let him. You can hardly tell that they're there! :)

He went through and pointed to each phase and I told him what the name of the phase was.

Then we removed all the labels and propped up the felt board against the wall. I placed the control cards face up on the table (we use them face down for review, but not for matching games like this).

Then below the control card I placed three picture cards.

And below those three word labels.

They then look at the control card and match it to the picture and name that goes with it. After they have done this a few times we will flip over the control cards and see if they can correctly match the picture card to the name card.

Once they were finished working on the cards they went back to playing with the felt board. They loved removing all of the moon pieces and placing them back on the board. At one point Munchkin had removed all the pieces except the full moon and the earth and showed me how the moon went around the sun. It was adorable!!

The whole solar system is next! I am considering adding more than just planets... Perhaps comets, asteroids, a space shuttle, maybe even an astronaut. :) I will also probably switch to felt pages, that way I can use black glitter felt, so they can see all the twinkling stars!

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