If we observe the moon, we’d notice that it has many phases depending on the time of the month. As a child, you may have wondered about this phenomenon. Why does the moon looks like a crescent some of the times? Why doesn’t it stay a full moon all the time?
If you need help in explaining this phenomenon to your kids, I may have the perfect app for you. It’s called You Know Moon Phases? Feel the Angle. I learned about waning crescent, waxing gibbous, and other moon phases from this app.
The Moon, the Sun, and the Earth
As an adult, we know that the moon phases are caused by the relative position of the Moon, the Sun, and the Earth. But, how do we explain this to our kids? The app decides to explain this concept in seven steps.
The first step is understanding that the Sun, the Moon, and the Earth have different sizes. You can zoom out to compare the size of the Moon to the Earth, then the Moon and the Earth to the Sun.
Then, you move on to the next step: determining the distance between these objects. Using a warp animation, the app illustrates traveling in space. With the Earth as your starting point, you can travel to the Moon and to the Sun. This activity provides you with an overview of where the Earth, Moon, and Sun are in our solar system.
The next two activities show what would happen when a sphere, such as the Earth and the Moon, receives light. This process explains why some parts of the Earth and the Moon are illuminated by the Sun, when others are not. It also shows what kind of shadow a sphere would create. This prepares us to understand how the Earth’s shadow would influence the Moon’s illuminated part.
A key point in the sixth activity is that unlike many books or pictures, the app also shows the Moon as we see it from Earth. When you drag and hold your finger for a while, you can see the perspective changing from bird’s-eye view to Earth view.
The Phases of the Moon
The last three activities show how the Moon’s illuminated shape changes because of the changes in the Moon’s and Earth's positions relative to the Sun. The activities try to define the phases visually instead of verbally.
For example, a waning crescent happens when the moon is less than half illuminated and is moving towards the new moon position, where the moon is no longer visible. Another example shows what a waxing gibbous is: a phase where the moon is more than half illuminated and is moving towards the full moon position.
Parents Need to Know
The developers of You Know Moon Phases? believe that science was developed by watching repetitive phenomena and understanding their principles. It’s helpful for kids to think about the origins of these phenomena from an early age because it can help develop their curiousity and problem-solving skills.
You Know Moon Phases? is suitable for kids ages 4+ who want to learn about the phases of the Moon and why the Moon looks differently at different times. The app works great without an Internet connection. It has no third-party ads, in-app purchases, or links to social networks.
Things I Like
I like how the app uses the seven steps to explain the moon phases. It’s helpful to get a good overview of the relationships between the Sun, the Moon, and the Earth, before learning what causes the phases of the moon. It’s also helpful to learn how a sphere would look like when it receives light and the type of shadow it casts.
I really enjoy the 3D simulation showing how the Moon rotates around the Earth in 30 days. It’s really helpful to see the transition from a new moon to a full moon and vice versa. It’s also helpful to learn the differences between waning moon and waxing moon. It certainly explains how a crescent moon is formed.
You Know Moon Phases? Feel the Angle is a great app for kids and adults to learn about the different phases of the moon. Not only does it explains all the phases visually using 3D simulations, but it also explains the basic knowledge required to understand the concept, such as the relative positions of the Sun, the Earth, and the Moon. If you’ve been looking for a way to explain the moon phases to your kids, this is the app to get.