Earth, Sun and Moon and the lunar cycle

Earth, Sun and Moon and the lunar cycle

We see the Moon in the night sky and we see the tide come in and out at the beach but do we understand how the two things are connected? How big is the Moon compared to the Sun and how far away is the Sun? This lesson plan gives a basic introduction to the movements of the Earth, Sun and Moon.

Key Stage:

KS1&2 Science


A lesson plan inspired by the work of sculptor Antony Gormley and his works which interact with tidal waters.

This lesson can be used to help:
- students understand the relative sizes of the Earth, Moon, Sun.
- students understand that Earth, Moon, Sun are spherical
- students explain how the moon affects the oceans and tides of the Earth

Two sculptures that are affected by tides

This short film shows two sculptures by Antony Gormley sited on a beach. 'Another Place' at Crosby, Merseyside consists of 100 figures fully covered at high tide. What makes the oceans rise and fall? Watch the film and then investigate why the sea levels all over the world change daily. Report back your findings.

The movement of the earth around the sun, and of the moon around the earth

Watch the film and then try and solve the problem. The time the moon takes for one full orbit of the earth is known as a 'lunar month'. There are 12.36 lunar months in one year so how many days make up a lunar month?

Although the standard calendar is 365 days, Islam uses a lunar calendar, in which one year is 12 lunar months long.

Phases of the Moon

This sheet shows a number of paintings with a view of the moon. Download the sheet and write underneath each of the five images which phase of the moon you think is shown. The options are:
New crescent moon
Full Moon
Old crescent Moon

Download Phases of the Moon in Art.pdf

Phases of the Moon cont

This sheet shows the phases of the moon as photographed in Rasht, Iran by Hamed Rajabpour and Nariman Ghorbani. Compare your answers and the paintings with the actual views of the moon across one lunar month.

Download Photographs of the phases of the Moon..pdf

Development Activity:

Students could continue their investigations by moving on to look at the force of gravity. Our lesson plan looks at who discovered gravity and how it works and what is air resistance.
The Force of Gravity

Learning Objectives:

Through using this lesson plan students should:
-Ask relevant questions and use different types of scientific enquiries to answer them.
-Identify scientific evidence that has been used to support or refute ideas or arguments.
- Develop maths skills.

Research, Notes and Links:

Download this lesson plan