How far away is the Moon? Would you like to go there? July 20th marks the day when the first man, Neil Armstrong, shortly followed by Buzz Aldrin, walked on the moon. Both astronauts were part of the famous Apollo 11 mission. The Moon is so deeply rooted in our imagination, cultural history and mythologies that its exploration seems to have been inevitable.
Think about the Moon. What is the first thing that comes to your mind when you think of it? What characteristics do you associate with it? The Moon is usually considered to be the opposite of the Sun, and when we list binary oppositions, the Moon commonly represents darker, watery, romantic and feminine qualities. It also stands for beauty, fertility and growth, just think about the lunar phases which affect the tides of the oceans.
In Greek and Roman mythologies the goddesses Selene/Luna as well as Artemis/Diana, who were goddesses of wilderness, the woods, virginity and childbirth were linked to the Moon. Over the centuries the Moon has inspired artists, musicians and writers.
Let’s see how the Moon can inspire us, readers and language learners. Scientific research, literary works, visual arts, music and mythology can guide us in our special Moon Expedition.
MOON EXPEDITION WITH YOUNG LEARNERS
1 Read a story
Moony lives on the moon. Every day is the same: he cleans his home, he waters his garden, then he goes for a walk. Moony is bored. He wants to hear noise and see people. He wants to go to Earth. One day, Alex the astronaut arrives and agrees to take Moony home with him. What happens when Moony arrives on Earth? What surprises does he find? And what does Moony decide to do: stay on Earth or go back to the moon?
2 Space Exploration with NASA
Space Place, the NASA educational website is a fun website for both young and teen learners. Learn about the basic facts, find out how far the Moon is, and explore other moons of other planets.
Some questions and tasks from the website:
- Why is the Moon so scarred with craters?
- How far away is the Moon?
- Make Moon cookies
- Build a Moon habitat!
- Europa: Mystery Moon
MOON EXPEDITION WITH TEENS AND ADULTS
1 Language games
Opposites: Either list each half of a word pair, or mix and list all the words. Ask your students to make word pairs.
SUN-MOON, light-dark, masculine-feminine, active-passive, fire-water, south-north, summer-winter
Word formation: Learn about the words which are connected to the moon.
- month: Old English (of Germanic) origin, the Dutch and Germans words mean ‘moon’
- lunar: from the Latin ‘luna’, which means ‘moon’
- lunatic/lunacy: originally refers to insanity dependent on changes of the moon, from ‘luna’
Moon words: What do these phrases mean? Say sentences with them.
- new moon
- blood moon
- full moon
- Harvest Moon
- blue moon
- once in a blue moon
- moon glow
- to moon over (phrasal verb)
- to moon around (phrasal verb)
- the man in the moon
- to ask for the moon
- to promise someone the moon
- to be over the moon
- lunar eclipse
- lunar phases
- to reach for the moon
- to want the moon on a stick
2 Science of the Moon
Learn about exciting moon phenomena and facts on the NASA website.
- The Moon: information and fact sheet
- Summer Blue Moon
- Total Eclipse of the Moon
- Total Eclipse of the Harvest Moon
- Common Moon Misconceptions
- 181 Things to Do on the Moon
3 The Moon in arts, literature and films
Visual arts: the Google Art Project
The Google Art Project is a great resource for any arts-based or arts-inspired lesson. Go on the main Google Arts & Culture website, and search for the keyword ‘moon’. Select an artwork and talk about it with your students. Then ask them to choose an artwork they like.
Literature and film
Learn about the symbolism of the Moon. What does it represent in art and literature? Then, think about novels, poems, plays and films where the Moon gains special significance. Here are some examples:
- A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare
- The First Men in the Moon by H.G. Wells
- Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown (children’s picture book)
- WALL-E, 2008 animation film
- Apollo 11, 1996 film
- Moon, 2009 film
- 2001: A Space Odyssey 1968 film
- A Grand Day Out, 1996 animation film
4 Some fun stuff: music and dance
How many songs do you know about the moon? Here is a list of our favourite songs about the Moon.
- Moonlight Sonata by Ludwig van Beethoven
- Moondance by Van Morrison, also by Michael Bublé
- Moon River composed by Henry Mancini, and made famous by Audrey Hepburn in the film Breakfast at Tiffany’s
- Man on the Moon by R.E.M.
- Fly Me to the Moon by Frank Sinatra
- Walking on the Moon by The Police
Can you moonwalk? Search for moonwalk on YouTube and learn to moonwalk like Michael Jackson.
Do you have any stories about the Moon? We would love to hear them!