Kids learn faster with hands-on activities and edible fun STEM activities are even better! One such tasty STEM project for kids is the Oreo moon phases activity!
Oreo moon phases is the easiest activity to teach your kids about the moon, its beautiful phases, why the moon changes its shape, and the science behind it.
A great demonstration to include in the Lunar Cycles unit, Oreo cookie moon phase activity is a hand-on way to explain the moon phases to a child, whatever be their age!
So, let’s explore and learn the various phases of the moon and their names through this simple and delicious STEM activity using Oreo Cookies.
Oreo Moon Phases Activity: Understanding Different Phases of The Moon
Oreo moon phases are quite simple; you use kids’ favourite Oreo cookies to make them learn about the various phases of the moon in the sky.
You won’t need fancy equipment or complicated procedures to enjoy this moon phase Oreo activity—just your favourite Oreo cookies and a sense of curiosity.
Now, let’s get hands-on with our Oreo moon phases activity!
What You Will Need For Oreo Moon Phases:
- Oreo cookies: It’s better if you keep two different Oreo cookie flavors for the waxing and waning cycles
- A kid-friendly (butter) knife
- A moon phases chart or diagram for reference – grab this free printable along with phases of moon worksheets at the end of the page.
Instructions For The Oreo Moon Phases Activity
1. Grab Oreos for this moon phase activity:
Yum! It’s time to bring out the Oreos. These tasty treats will act as mini-moons for our activity. Give your child at least 8 Oreo cookies to create the 8 moon phases with Oreo.
If possible, get four cookies in one flavor (for the waxing phase of the moon) and the other four cookies in a different flavor (for the waning phases of the moon). Twist the Oreo biscuits slowly, and ensure the whole frosting remains on one side of the biscuit.
You will not be needing the biscuits without frosting. So you can keep them aside to enjoy eating them later!
2. First, make all the quarters of the moon phases; it’s easy that way!
Give your kids a moon phase chart to better understand all the shapes of moon. Give your kids a butter knife and ask them to create the four phases as follows:
- New Moon: Have the kids start with this phase. Use the butter knife to scrape off all the frosting from the Oreo, leaving only the dark cookie exposed. The new moon represents the darkest phase when the moon is not visible from the Earth.
- First Quarter: To make the first quarter Oreo moon phase, remove half of the frosting vertically to make a semi-circle shape, representing the first quarter moon.
- Full Moon: The kids need not scrape off any frosting for this phase, as the entire cookie should be visible to represent the full moon phase.
- Last Quarter: Remove exactly half of the frosting to represent the last Quarter Oreo moon phase.
Next, draw the Sun on the same side as the new moon. Once they have drawn the Sun, ask them to organize the four phases of the moon they created. Use the moon phase chart as a guide to direct your kids! It is essential to remember that:
- The new moon is always at the same side of the Sun.
- The full moon is at the opposite side of the Sun and the New Moon.
- First quarter is at the top.
- Third quarter is at the bottom.
3. Make a waxing crescent and waxing gibbous phases of the moon with Oreos.
Waxing is the journey where the new moon (no moon) transforms into a full moon. During waxing, the moon gets bigger in size.
It takes three phases, including the first quarter, for the new moon to completely transform or grow into the full moon phase.
Waxing crescent resembles a sickle. The sickle shape should be on the right side of the cookie! Remove the rest of the frosting using a butter knife.
Waxing gibbous has 50.1 to 99% of the moon on display. Ask your kids to remove a sickle-size frosting from the left of the Moon Oreos.
4. Make Waning gibbous and waning crescent moon phases with Oreo:
Waning is the journey where the full moon starts to shrink in size and finally disappears from the sky. They are similar to waxing crescent/gibbous but follow just the opposite trajectory. So instead of the moon growing its shape, it shrinks till it reaches the new moon.
Waning gibbous comes right after the full moon: Start by scraping off a small sliver (sickle shape) of frosting from the right side of the Oreo to create the Waning Gibbous phase of the lunar cycle.
Waning crescent: Scrape off most of the frosting from the right side of the Oreo and leave the sickle shape on the left side of the cookie to show the Waning Crescent phase.
Your Oreo Moon Phases are ready.
Study them with your child and ask them questions around the lunar cycle to check their understanding. Encourage them to think by asking questions on why they think the moon changes shapes.
It is a must try STEM activity for all the curious kids and budding astronauts who are constantly fascinated by space science (as well as their surroundings!) and wonder why does the Moon constantly changes shapes!
Why Does the Moon Look Different Shapes Throughout The Month?
It’s a good knowledge-based question that will enhance your child’s STEM skills and space science knowledge. Start by explaining the moon as a celestial body and how it’s beneficial to Earth:
- Moon regulates the 24-hour cycle of our planet.
- It stabilizes the climate.
- It shields the earth.
- Helps migrating animals.
- Provides enough light in the dark night.
Moon is Earth’s only natural satellite. It revolves around the Earth just the way Earth revolves around the Sun.
Quick Tip: Unravel the mysteries of space with our Space Science Unit. Packed with STEM activities, crafts & worksheets it makes learning hands-on!
Now that your little space scientists understand what is Moon and how it influences life on Earth, let’s dive in to find out why the moon changes its shape.
The fact is that the moon does not change its shape at all! What changes is our view of the moon from Earth that results in its various shapes and moon phases. Let us explain how:
Imagine the Moon to be a shiny ball in the sky, but it doesn’t have light of its own like the Sun. It receives light from the Sun, much like the Earth, and appears to shine in the sky.
The side of the moon facing the sun is illuminated while the other half always remains in dark (refer to the moon phase chart below or grab its free printable at the end of the page!).
What results in different shapes of the moon is the position of the moon in its orbit around the Earth. When the moon is positioned between the Sun and the Earth (like in the chart above), the illuminated part of the moon is facing away from the earth.
As the lunar half facing the Earth receives no sunlight, it appears hidden in the sky. This phase is called the New Moon.
As the moon orbits around the earth, starting from the new moon, a small silver of illuminated part of the moon becomes visible from the Earth. Known as waxing, the size of the moon increases till the Earth is positioned between the sun and the moon.
At this point, the entire illuminated half of the moon is facing Earth and you get to witness the full moon.
Following nights of the full moon, the position of the moon in its orbit changes and you start seeing less of the visible part of the moon. This is known as weaning and it continues till the moon is positioned back between the Sun and the Earth.
The Different Shapes & Phases of the Moon
It takes the Moon roughly 29.5 days to complete one lunar cycle. During this period it goes through the following phase before the cycle repeats itself.
While you discuss the different shapes of the Moon, it is best to keep your Oreo phases and Lunar cycle chart handy for kids to refer to.
During this phase, the side of the Moon facing Earth is entirely in shadow, and it appears completely dark. The moon is entirely invisible.
You call this phase the birth of a new moon or the lunar cycle’s beginning.
A little, crescent-shaped silver object appears in the sky as the moon advances toward the full moon position.
The waxing (growing) phase of the moon officially starts at this phase. As the days go by, this crescent grows bigger and bigger.
This phase is commonly referred to as the half moon. The Moon is at a 90-degree angle to the Earth in the first quarter. Half of the visible moon is illuminated, resembling a half-moon shape.
The term “Waxing Gibbous” describes a middle phase between the full moon and the half moon.
During this phase, more than half of the Moon is illuminated, but it is not yet a full moon. The illuminated part continues to grow.
When the Earth comes between the Sun and the Moon (180 degree angle); you get the full moon!
Waning gibbous is the name given to the period immediately following the full moon. It’s the phase when the Moon (the luminous orb) begins to shrink.
Although it happens after the Full Moon, it is comparable to the Waxing Gibbous.
The Last Quarter is similar to the First Quarter, this phase displays a half-moon shape, but it’s on the opposite side compared to the first quarter.
Just for Fun: Add humour to learning with this silly science joke – Why was the moon so broke? Beaches it was down to its last quarter!!
After the Third Quarter Moon, the waning crescent displays the last remnants of the full moon until dark night engulfs us wholly. The Moon is just partially visible in the form of a little crescent/sickle.
Now that you have figured out the phases of moon, test your understanding with these free moon phases printable worksheets.
These Oreo Moon Phases Worksheets (along with the Moon phase charts!) are a great resource for teaching Phases of Moon to students as well as kids at home.