Ever since the Mid-Autumn Festival (中秋节/中秋節), my daughter has been making pretend moon cakes, a popular Chinese dessert, with homemade play dough almost every day! To indulge her mooncake obsession, we reviewed the moon phases with play dough mooncakes!
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Exploring moon phases on evening walks
My children are always fascinated by the moon and following the moon phases in the sky!
During the winter when the sun sets early, they were able to check the night sky for moon and stars before bedtime.
We had a lot of fun going for evening walks as a family and observing the different moon shapes!
Since my children and I speak both Mandarin Chinese and English together, we learned about the moon phases in both languages.
Chinese is the minority language for our family, so I try to make Chinese learning extra fun for my kids! And lets be honest – I need a little motivation while re-learning this language, too!
Other favorite moon phase learning activities
- Sun & Moon Paper Roll Paint Stamp – Learn Chinese Characters 日 and 月
- Moon Phases Glue Resist Watercolor Painting Activity!
- Montessori Moon Phase 3-Part Cards in Chinese, Korean, English
Moon phases: Important vocabulary in Chinese, Pinyin, and English
Here are important words that we reviewed together in simplified Chinese, traditional Chinese, Hanyu Pinyin, and English.
- 月球 (Yuèqiú / Moon)
- 月相 (Yuè xiàng / Phases of the moon)
- 新月 (Xīn yuè / New moon)
- 眉月 (Méi yuè / Waxing crescent) – Right side 1-49%
- 上弦月 (Shàngxián yuè / First quarter) – Right side 50%
- 盈凸月 (Yíng tú yuè / Waxing gibbous) – Right side 51-99%
- 满月 / 滿月 / (Mǎnyuè / Full moon) – 100%
- 亏凸月 / 虧凸月 (Kuī tú yuè / Waning gibbous) – Left side 51-99%
- 下弦月 (Xiàxián yuè / Last quarter) – Left side 50%
- 残月 / 殘月 (Cányuè / Waning crescent) – Left side 1-49%
What you need to make play dough mooncakes:
- Homemade play dough – please see our easy play dough recipe here!
- Mooncake molds (here, here, and here)
- Large dark tray (eg, baking tray)
- Moon phases printable journal in simplified Chinese and traditional Chinese
- Optional: rhinestone stickers!
How to teach moon phases with play dough mooncakes:
- Prepare play dough moon cakes
- Cut moon shapes with knife (cargiver/teacher or child can do this depending on age)
- Label moon shapes with paper and pen
- Keep track of moon phases with printable journal; use play dough to create the shape seen in the sky!
- Optional: Use rhinestone stickers to create a tactile Chinese character, moon 月
Free printable monthly moon journal
Here’s a photo of my daughter’s moon journal! As you can see in September (bottom image), many days were missed. We often forgot to keep a record of our observations and just filled it in whenever we remembered.
Have you made moon phases with play dough?
If you try this Play Dough Moon Phases activity, let us know! We hope your family learns and has fun with it, and we would love to see how it turns out!
If your child is fascinated by the night sky, try these Twinkle Twinkle Little Star activities!
Chinese solar system books
Educational Solar System toys
- Solar system magnets
- 48 piece solar system puzzle
- 100 piece solar system puzzle
- 200 piece solar system puzzle
Of these 3 puzzles, the last one is the best in my opinion. The pictures are most realistic and show the planets in proper order.
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