Birthday cake and Moon

Birthday Moons


Students become familiar with lunar phases by locating and then graphing the Moon phase of their own birthdays. After listening and discussing lunar myths and legends they create their own Birthday Moon Stories.

Learner Outcomes

The learner will:

  • generate a birthday moon for his/her birth date this year and the previous year using various web sites. 
  • classify his/her birthday moon and produce a "moon card" of his/her own birthday moon 
  • recognize and describe the patterns of the Moon's phases. 
National Science Education Standards

National Mathematics Education Standards

Materials and Technology

Scientific Background

Teacher Lesson Plans

Activity 1: Cut and paste the eight phases of the Moon.

Activity 2: Use "moon cards" to enable students to become familiar with lunar phase sequences and patterns.

Activity 3: Find out what the Moon looked like on each student's birthday.

Activity 4: Students each draw a picture of their birthday moons on a blank card along with their birth date, year, and name of lunar phase.

Activity 5: Students classify their pictures according to the Phases of the Moon.

Activity 6: Each student compares this year's birthday moon to the previous year's birthday Moon, then predicts what the next year's birthday moon will look like.

Activity 7: Students write a story about their birthday moon.

Teacher Lesson Plans

1. Familiarize students with the four phases and then the eight phases of the Moon.  Have students cut out the different phases from the Cut n' Paste Worksheet #1 and paste them on to the Cut n' Paste Worksheet #2.

2. Print out the moon phase calendar for the current month.  Cut out each date, and pass one out to each student.  Beginning with the full moon (you may have to tell them the date of the full moon), have students work together to sequence these cards according to the appropriate lunar phases.

3. Find out what the Moon looked like or will look like on each student's birthday. 

The following sites can be used to find pictures of the Moon on those dates.  The first two sites are recommended. 

  • Space Academy: Will display Moon phases from January 1, 1990 through December 31, 2019.  Very quick.  Just scroll down the page a bit and click to the correct date (first image shown may not be correct). 
  • Moon Phases shows the entire month, plus has previous months archived. 
  • Virtual Reality Moon Phase Pictures: usable, but a little more complicated. 
These WWW sites could be used in a variety of ways.  The first two sites are fairly easy to use and are fast; the other two sites above take more time to locate the phase of the Moon for the dates typed in, but are excellent as well.  We make the following suggestions for use of these sites with this activity: 
  • During the class, the teacher can go to one of the above sites.  Then, as each student gives his/her birthday, that date can be entered in, and the proper Moon picture generated.  Each student then can record (by drawing) the Moon picture for his/her birthday. 
  • A computer lab may be useful for this portion of the activity.  The teacher can demonstrate how to use the site, then the students can work in groups to collect the data. 
  • If using an Internet hookup in the classroom, students could work in groups to use the site.  Once one group has gathered all necessary data, another can start. 
  • If none of the above is possible, then the teacher can gather the information.  Type in each birth date, get the picture, make a printed hardcopy of it, and pass those out the data to the students. 
4. Have students print out what the Moon will look like or did look like on their birthdays this year and the previous year. 

5. Have each student draw a picture of his/her own birthday moon for this year on a separate card.  Make sure students put their names, birth dates, and identify their lunar phases on their cards. 

6. Classification: Tell the students, "Go to the Moon Graph and place your Moon above the one on the graph that looks the most like yours."  Once the students have completed their birthday moon pictures, they should classify their picture according to the Phases of the Moon.  Once classified, the Moon Graph can be made listing the phases that were studied, with the student pictures pasted in the proper columns.  Since most pictures won't come out to look exactly like the example pictures given in the Moon Graph, the students will have to decide which of the categories looks most like their pictures.  The graphs should be analyzed by asking the students several questions such as: 

  • How many pictures are in each phase? 
  • Which phase has the most pictures? 
  • Which phase has the least pictures? 
  • Which phase contains (student name)'s picture? 
  • Would you put any pictures in a different category (phase)? If yes, why? 
7. The above activity should be repeated for students' birthdays for the previous year.  Have student's compare this years and last year's pictures.  Ask the following question:
  • Do you think that the Moon will look the same on your birthday next year?  Why or why not? 
8. Students should each draw a picture about what the Moon will look like on their next birthday, present their pictures, and tell the class why they chose to draw the Moon this way.  Have students go back to the above web sites and determine if their predictions were correct.

Extensions: If time and technology is available, have students look at many birthday moons for different years to make more pattern comparisons and predictions.  Start with how the Moon looked on the day they were born.  The pictures and graphs created should be compared to show that the Moon will be different on their birthdays every year.  Some of the questions above could be asked to allow students to make comparisons. 

NOTE:  If all of your students were born before January 1, 1990, or you decide not to have the students view the Moon on the day they were born (just the birthdays for this year, last year and/or next year), then it is recommended that you go to the Space Academy page and use the Moon Phase applet.  It is several times faster than the other locations and simple to use; after a short demonstration by the teacher, the students will be able to look up the necessary information on their own. 

9. Connections to Reading and Language: Read about different Moon myths. This extension combines moon lore and the students' birthdays.  Go to the Moon Xscape site and read the Moon lore concerning days after the Full Moon.  From the same site, the students can enter in their birth dates and see what the Moon looked like on their birthdays (if they haven't done so already).  Each student can determine if his/her birth date was close enough to a Full Moon to have some interesting Moon lore written about it.  Now the students can write a story about his/her own birthday moon.  Here are some more Moon Myths.

Samples of student Moon Myths.

Suggested Activity: Have a "Birthday Moon Author's Party"