By Beth Pinyerd

I love to read “Goodnight Moon” by Margaret Wise Brown to preschoolers. The book colorfully illustrates the night sky with the moon and the stars. Families were able to tune in to listen to the book being read aloud from the International Space Station on Wednesday. In collaboration with “NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration)” and Harper Kids Books, Crayola Education celebrated the 75th anniversary of “Goodnight Moon” by Margaret Wise Brown, illustrated by Clement Hurd, with a read and draw along on the International Space Station. Crayola Education hosted the read along/draw along event on Facebook Live. This was the first time “Goodnight Moon” had been read aloud from space.

NASA Deputy Administrator Pam Melroy was invited to participate in the interactive storytelling session, followed by “Ask An Astronaut” question and answer session where two NASA astronauts answered  questions that were submitted earlier by children from all over the country. Hands-on participation was demonstrated and encouraged during the Facebook Live event. Too, for everyone who tuned in from Earth, they were able to follow along as the book was read in space and create their own art. With an event like this, we all reflect back to the landing on the moon on July 20, 1969, by U.S. astronauts Neil Armstrong and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin, Jr.. We remember Armstrong’s famous quote, “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” We have come such a long way in space exploration and technology over the years. For those who missed the event, the video is available to watch anytime, on-demand, by visiting

As we were in the outer space classroom during this event, I would like to review and share some facts about the moon from the early childhood classroom. I hope this will help you and your children look at God’s world with awe and appreciation.

Where does the light come from that lights up the moon? The moon doesn’t shine by itself. One experiment that is a fun learning experience in the classroom, summer camp or church group, is to have the children work in groups of three. Give one child a flashlight, which represents the sun, another a ball or globe, which represents the earth and the other a mirror to represent the moon. Go into a room and ask the children to observe the ball or globe as the earth. Turn off the lights, shine the flashlight (sun) into the mirror (moon), then show the light on the ball or globe which is the earth.  The children will see that the moonlight we observe from earth comes from the sun. 

Children love to pretend that they see “The Man in the Moon”. Explain to young children that the moon has craters, mountains and valleys which probably make the moon surface look like a face of a man. As the wind is blowing on a summer evening as you and your children are sky gazing, explain to them that the moon has no atmosphere, and thus the moon has no weather. Explain to them that the footprints made on the moon’s surface in 1969 are still on the moon’s surface forever — that their footprints don’t blow away. 

As you and your children observe the moon each night you will see that it goes through moon phases.  Simply draw a round circle so that the children can record what they see each night by coloring or shading what they observe in the circle.

The new moon is not visible to our naked eye, It’s when the moon is directly between the sun and earth. 

The waxing crescent resembles a crescent, or as one young observer told me, it reminded her of a toenail. You know children are very literal in what they see and  how they describe it.

The first quarter moon is referred to as a half moon. A fraction lesson on ½ can be incorporated in the picture record. 

Waxing Gibbous grows past the first quarter but is not yet a full moon. This is a good observation time where children love to see it grow into a full moon. A full moon is beautiful and truly lights up the night sky once a month. 

After the full moon, you and your children can see the moon size decreasing through the Waning Gibbous, Third Quarter, then Waning Crescent. 

Another intergenerational book I adore and always read to the young and old is by Eric Carle,  titled, “Papa, Please Get the Moon for Me.”  This is a wonderful book to act out with your family.

Families, there are so many creative snacks that you can make and enjoy on phases of the moon. Moon Pies and Oreo Cookies are just a couple examples. Take a look at the many creative snacks offered on the web. The time you spend creating fun snacks with your children enhances relationships and creates fun memories. Children really enjoy the summer treat of red, white and blue Rocket Popsicles.

Another intergenerational family activity to enhance auditory, sensory and memory enjoyment is singing songs like “Moon River” by Henry Mancini and Johnny Mercer,  “Shine On Harvest Moon” by Nora Bayes or “Fly Me to the Moon” by Bart Howard. 

One really fun activity that family, friends and groups can enjoy are shooting off rockets and seeing how high they go. Many simple, inexpensive rocket models can be bought and made. I have done this with my classes, church groups, scouts, etc., and it is truly a blast of fun on an evening of moon gazing. 

I hope Classroom Observer has encouraged families to truly engage and enjoy moon gazing as well as sky and star gazing.

Classroom Observer, Beth Pinyerd