About Lunar Cycle


Sciencewear’s lunar cycle project provides a creative and fun way for students to demonstrate their knowledge of the phases of the moon by creating a t-shirt or apron illustrating the lunar cycle. The project is done in class with every student on an equal playing field for completing the project. This affordable, engaging project can be done to extend or assess a lesson and will be worn upon completion, extending science knowledge into the community.

The lunar cycle shirts and aprons from Sciencewear come prescreened with the outline on the fabric and the project is completed by students with fabric markers and glow-in-the-dark paint, provided by the teacher. Teacher directions, Student Plan, example projects, Order Form, and additional resources relating to the Earth, moon, and sun are available on the bottom of this page.

Lunar Cycle Project - How To

Lunar Cycle Directions for the Teacher

You will generate excitement if you create and wear your own lunar cycle shirt or apron when you introduce your unit on the Earth, sun, and moon. Let your students know they will have the opportunity to create their own wearable project at the end of the unit. Think of your project as a “wearable anchor chart” and refer to it as you teach the unit.

Decide beforehand if this will be a shirt or apron project. The Lunar Cycle – Collecting money and ordering handout can be edited before making copies to distribute to students. *Personal testimony – I have done this project in school districts with a high percentage of low socio-economic disadvantaged students. Collecting money for this project has been met with minimal resistance. I believe this is due to ridding parents of “project material” stress and witnessing their child’s excitement for a shirt or apron that will be theirs to keep and wear.

Teach your unit. If you need some fresh ideas, check out https://www.pinterest.com/sciencewear/lunar-cyclemoon-phases/ and the resources at the bottom of this page.

Once you feel confident your students have grasped the sequence of events in the lunar cycle, you can copy and distribute the plan sheet as their assessment. This is a paper copy of the design’s outline that is pre-screened on the shirts and aprons. Students complete their “test” by labeling and drawing the phases of the moons with a pencil. Have crayons or map pencils available so they can color the Sun, Earth, phases, and stars. This gives them the chance to experiment with colors they will use on the actual project.

Collect and assess the plan, checking for completeness, proper drawing, labeling, and spelling of the phases. Since the individual plans will be returned and used for their reference for completing the actual project, this is the time to see if re-teaching needs to be addressed so errors are avoided on the final project.

Creating the Lunar Cycle Shirt or Apron

This project is can be completed in two to three 45 minute classes.

Supplies Part I:
> Student plan sheet
> Lunar cycle apron or t-shirt
> Extra-fine or fine black sharpie marker for labeling moon phases (1/student)
> Large piece of butcher paper, poster board, smooth cardboard, or foam board (1/student)
> Jumbo paper clips, bulldog clips (4/student)
> Fabric markers for coloring (1 set per group)
> Optional: Sun and space clipart

Return checked plan sheets to students for use as their reference while working on their garment.

Distribute the garments and have students neatly write their full name with a sharpie marker in a predesignated area. (I usually designate the inside bottom seam of shirts and bottom right-hand corner of aprons).

Have students place a folded sheet of butcher paper or poster board under the fabric to prevent marker bleed-through. Using clips, secure the fabric and paper together to prevent slipping.

*Helpful tip for using markers on t-shirt fabric – Since t-shirt fabric is stretchy; some teachers prefer having students insert a ½ sheet of foam board inside their shirt, centering the area to be designed over the foam. Demonstrate how to smooth the fabric over the board taking care to make the fabric is taut before securing with clips. This makes the fabric a bit easier to label and color with the markers. The foam boards found at discount stores such as Dollar Tree can be cut in ½ and the boards are easily stored and reused!

With their plan sheet at their table as a reference, students use a fine permanent marker to label each phase – starting with the new moon under the sunlight – and continuing counter-clockwise around the earth. The non-visible portions of each moon phase can be colored in with a black or dark fabric marker. *The visible portions of each phase and the full moon are left white OR can be painted with glow-in-the-dark paint as described in Part II. Students use the fabric markers to color the stars, Earth, lettering, and sun.

Optional recommendation: I like to provide a variety of sun and space-related clipart images so students can “embellish” their projects and make it a true, one-of-a-kind masterpiece. A sun can be traced above the LUNAR CYCLE lettering at the top of their project. I have included sun and space clipart to download and print in the RESOURCES section. Print enough sets of the clipart so that you have one set available for each group. Cut the clipart into individual images and put each set in quart size zip-lock bags. Students can select a sun and a couple of other images from the bag to place under the fabric of their project. The images are easily traced using a black marker and colored with fabric markers.

Heat Set the Marker – You will need to decide in advance if you are going to have your students do their own heat-setting or have an adult volunteer do this, depending on the age of your students.

When all labeling and coloring has been completed, the paper and clips are removed from the project and the marker in the fabric will need to be heat set. There are two ways to heat set fabric marker colors.
1. Set an iron to cotton. Cover an ironing board with newspaper and a layer of white paper. Iron on the reverse side of your designs, using a back and forth motion, for 4 minutes.
2. You can heat set by placing the project in a clothes dryer set on the hottest setting for 30 minutes.
(My preference is #1 and I have allowed students grades 5-8 to do their own heat setting by setting up 3-4 ironing stations through-out the room. It is part of the science safety skills being taught).
*If you do not want to use paint as described in Part II, students can leave the moon phases white and the projects are complete.
Part II (Optional)
Completing the project by providing glow-in-the-dark paint and iridescent glitter is optional, but highly recommended! The paint is added after heat-setting the fabric marker. No additional heat-setting will be required.

Supplies Part II:
> Individual student lunar cycle apron or t-shirt
> Large piece of butcher paper, poster board, smooth cardboard, or foam board – saved from Part 1 (1/student)
> Jumbo paper clips or bulldog clips (4/student) or stapler if using foam board
> Q-tips (disposable paint applicators) 1/student
> 1 oz. condiment cup or square of aluminum foil for paint 1/student
> Glow-in-the-dark fabric paint
> Iridescent or diamond glitter paint

Return the student projects, paper/board, and clips so students can set-up their project as they did for Part I.

Provide each student with a Q-tip and small cup or piece of foil with a quarter size “glob” of glow paint.

Instruct students to use their paint Q-tip paint applicators to carefully dab the glow paint onto each area of the moon we see with our eyes (the part that has been left white from part I). The paint does not have to be smooth, just as the surface of the moon is not smooth. Encourage them to use up all the glow paint you have given them. Next, give them a “glob” of iridescent paint (clear fabric paint with tiny bits of iridescent glitter). They use their Q-tip to dab the glitter paint over the top of any illustrations they colored where they want to add a bit of sparkle – like stars or rocket flames. The iridescent paint dries clear and quick.

Part II Teacher tips:
1. Avoid paint waste and “glitter frenzy” by controlling the amount of glow and glitter paint each student receives. When done, students dispose of their Q-tips and foil. If you use condiment cups, encourage students to use up the paint you gave them and save the cups for reuse. Allow condiment cups to completely dry before stacking and storing.
2. You will need to provide room for projects to dry as obviously you cannot stack the projects on top of one another while the paint is wet. I have made it work in one room with 150+ students/day. You will have to get “creative” and plan ahead!

Washing and Care Information
The color may bleed through during the first wash. To prevent bleeding during the wash cycle, instruct students to wash the garment in cold water separately and machine dry as soon as the wash cycle completes.