Moon Phases Activity with Styrofoam Balls

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Moon Phases Activity with Styrofoam Balls

The moon has fascinated humanity for centuries. Its changing appearance throughout the month, known as moon phases, has captivated astronomers and poets alike. Explaining the moon’s phases to children can be a fun and educational activity. In this blog post, we will show you how to create a hands-on moon phases activity using styrofoam balls.

Materials Needed

  • 3 styrofoam balls (small, medium, and large)
  • Black, white, and gray acrylic paint
  • Paintbrushes (small and medium-sized)
  • Scissors
  • Thread or fishing line
  • Push pins or thumbtacks
  • A printout or drawing of the moon phase cycle
  • A poster board or foam board


1. Begin by cutting a small piece of thread or fishing line. This will serve as the hanger for your moon phases mobile.

2. Take the largest styrofoam ball and paint it black. This will represent the new moon, which is not visible in the night sky.

3. Once the black paint is dry, attach the thread or fishing line to the top of the styrofoam ball. Use a push pin or thumbtack to secure the thread in place.

4. Cut another piece of thread or fishing line, this time slightly longer than the first. Paint the medium-sized styrofoam ball gray, representing a crescent moon.

5. Allow the gray paint to dry completely, then attach the thread to the top of the ball and secure it with a push pin or thumbtack.

6. Repeat step 4 with the smallest styrofoam ball, painting it white. This ball will represent a full moon.

7. Once all three balls are dry, arrange them in a row, starting with the new moon, then the crescent moon, and finally the full moon. The thread or fishing line should be attached at the top, allowing the balls to hang freely.

8. Use a printout or draw the moon phase cycle on a poster board or foam board. Place it beneath the hanging styrofoam balls.

The Moon Phases

  • New Moon: The moon is not visible in the night sky. This phase represents the beginning of a new lunar cycle.
  • Crescent Moon: A small sliver of the moon becomes visible. It looks like a crescent shape.
  • First Quarter: Half of the moon is now visible in the sky. This is also known as a half moon.
  • Gibbous Moon: More than half, but not fully, of the moon is visible. It appears rounded and swollen.
  • Full Moon: The entire face of the moon is visible and appears as a complete circle.
  • Waning Gibbous: The moon begins to decrease in visibility, appearing rounded but less full.
  • Last Quarter: Half of the moon is visible once again, but on the opposite side from the first quarter.
  • Waning Crescent: A small sliver of the moon is visible once more, this time on the opposite side from the crescent moon.
  • New Moon (Repeat): The cycle starts anew as the moon becomes invisible once again.

Explaining Moon Phases

Now that you have created a visual representation of the moon phases, you can explain the concept to children through hands-on interaction.

Start by asking the child to observe the hanging styrofoam balls. Compare their positions and colors to the moon phase cycle diagram or printout. Explain that the largest black ball represents the new moon when the moon is not visible in the night sky. Move on to the gray crescent moon and finally to the small white full moon.

Ask the child to move the balls around, simulating the different moon phases. Encourage them to explain each phase in their own words, using the diagram as a reference. This activity promotes engagement and enhances understanding of how the moon’s appearance changes throughout the lunar cycle.


The moon phases activity using styrofoam balls is an excellent way to teach children about the moon’s fascinating transformation in the night sky. By creating a visual representation and providing hands-on interaction, children can grasp the concept of moon phases in an engaging and memorable way. Remember, learning can be fun, and with activities like this, you can inspire a lifelong curiosity about the wonders of the universe!

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Moon Phases Activity with Styrofoam Balls