Phases of the Moon STEM Activity + FREE Printable

Students in second and third grade are often introduced to the basics of astronomy in science class. They learn about how Earth rotates on its axis every 24 hours causing night and day and how a year is measured by its revolution around the sun. They learn about how the moon revolves around Earth every 29.5 days and its effect on the tides. And, they learn how sunlight reflecting off the moon's surface and Earth's shadow interact to cause the phases of the moon that we see at night. The STEM minilesson below can be used to enrich your science and STEM lessons and activities about the moon. Keep reading to learn more!

Science and STEM craft for children. Students will  use Oreo cookies to create a model of the phases of the moon. Second, third, and fourth grade.
Disclosure: Affiliate links to Amazon are included in this post.

What are the phases of the moon?

When learning about the phases of the moon, students need to remember the names of each phase, the sequence of phases, and what each phase looks like. It can be a lot for the students... and some teachers... to remember! The phases of the moon starting with the new moon are:

  • new moon
  • waxing crescent
  • first quarter
  • waxing gibbous
  • full moon
  • waning gibbous
  • third quarter
  • waning crescent
  • new moon (sometimes called dark moon)

Reminder: When the moon waxes, we see more of its surface each night. Once it starts to wane, we see less of its surface.

Is the moon waxing or waning in this photo?

Phases of the Moon + Oreo Cookies STEM Craft 

Using Oreo cookies to create models of the moon's phases is a popular science and STEM activity among teachers and students. For decades, teachers have used this as a culminating activity to enrich their students' new knowledge. Very few materials are needed for this activity and can be purchased inexpensively online.

Materials Needed

It's not easy to scrape 100% of the filling while carving each phase of the moon with a toothpick. If some of the filling remains in the small cracks and crevices of the cookies, please don't penalize the children for it.


  1. Review the eight stages of the moon, their sequence, and what they look like.
  2. Each student will need a minimum of eight Oreos and a toothpick. They can use their own white glue.
  3. Pass out the phases of the moon printable below, one per student.
  4. The students are to break open each Oreo and use their toothpicks to carve out the shape of each phase of the moon in the filling.
  5. The students then use their white glue to glue their Oreos moons to the printables.
  6. Let the glue dry completely before sending this STEM craft home.

Free Phases of the Moon Printable

Each student will need their own copy of the printable below. For best results, I suggest printing this on white cardstock.

To download a FREE copy of this printable (one page in all), please click on the image above. Clicking this image will take you to the Teachers-Pay-Teachers third-party website. This is a FREE download-- no purchase necessary.

Suggested Reading: A Big Mooncake for Little Star

I love integrating children's literature into science and STEM whenever possible. A Big Mooncake for Little Star by Grace Lin is a modern-day fable / folktale about why the moon changes shape each night.

🍎 Author's Summary: A gorgeous picture book that tells a whimsical origin story of the phases of the moon, from award-winning, bestselling author-illustrator Grace Lin

Pat, pat, pat...
Little Star's soft feet tiptoed to the Big Mooncake...

Little Star loves the delicious Mooncake that she bakes with her mama. But she's not supposed to eat any yet! What happens when she can't resist a nibble? In this stunning picture book that shines as bright as the stars in the sky, Newbery Honor author Grace Lin creates a heartwarming original story that explains the phases of the moon.

🍎 Title: A Bigcake for Little Star
🍎 Author: Grace Lin
🍎 Illustrator: Grace Lin
🍎 Publisher: Little Brown Books for Readers
🍎 Year: 2018
🍎 Pages: 40

Cover of A Mooncake for Little Star showing a little girl is taking a big bite out of the moon.

Did you enjoy this post about the phases of the moon STEM craft? If so, check out these blog posts for more science and STEM activities:

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