Whenever the moon is full, it’s a monthly invitation to slow down, look up and really connect the wonder of that glowing rock in space with the changes we see in the world around us.
Kids love to see the moon at its fullest (especially if it means staying up a little later than usual), and the moon packs a lot of lessons about our world. According to space.com, the full moon this December hits on on the evening of Wednesday, December 7th . It’s most commonly known in the United States today as the Full Cold Moon. Read on for more about how to enjoy this special November moon!
The Full Cold Moon (And Other Names!)
According to the Old Farmer’s Almanac, the Cold Moon tradition comes from several Native American tribes and early Colonial Americans and it celebrates the arrival of winter weather in the northern hemisphere. The Cherokee people know it as vsgiyi, (or “snow month”) and the Creek Nation calls this moon cycle rvfo-rakko (“big winter”).
Our friends in the southern hemisphere are preparing to welcome the first day of summer, though, and this month’s moon is known as the fruit moon in South Africa and hakihea (“birds are now sitting in their nests”) to the Māori people. There are so many names and celebrations for each full moon and I like this list for the range of cultures it includes.
10 Ways to Celebrate the Full Moon
Take advantage of all the learning opportunities the moon has to offer with these 10 great ways to celebrate the moon with kids:
1: See the Full Moon Rise
The Old Farmer’s Almanac lists the dates and times of the year’s full moons. The full Cold Moon will rise on the evening of Wednesday, December 7th at 11:09pm ET and it will appear full as it rises above the horizon that evening,
2: Catch the Moon During the Day
If the moonrise proves hard to catch, make it a habit to wait a few days and try to catch a glimpse of the still-big moon in daylight! For little kids, this may be the best way to see the moon!
3: Explore the Connection to Nature
The full moon invites us to slow down and reflect on the changes we see in our world. Celebrate what winter is like in your area and lean into the joy of playing in (or with!) the cold.
Explore this moment by:
- Observing Winter’s Arrival: What changes do you notice this time of year? Carve out time during the day for a walk and use your senses to discover what the world is doing! What can you see, hear, smell, feel and taste? If you like, you can even write about or draw what you observe and collect nature treasures to make ice mobiles.
- Celebrating Cold with Ice Play: Frozen treasures are one of our favorite ways to play! They are super simple to make, pique curiosity and stimulate kids’ senses. We'll be exploring frozen treasures in free trial classes this winter!
- Learning about Glaciers: Check out this wonderful resource from National Geographic Kids to see photos and learn fun facts about glaciers — huge masses of ice that “flow” like slow rivers. Then, enjoy this Tinkergarten read-aloud of Glacier on the Move with details about what creatures live there and more!
- Continuing to Celebrate the coming Winter: Check out our December Calendar for fun outdoor play ideas to enjoy all month long. You can also set aside time in the evenings to check out the cold moon as it begins to wane and appear smaller each day. Marvel with kids as it grows smaller and look forward with excitement to the New Wolf Moon in early January.
- Bundling Up and Heading Outdoors: Check out our 2023 Winter Gear Guide with everything you need to support outdoor play this season!
4: Get Inspired
During last year's Worm Moon, I had the pleasure of talking with Nicolette Sowder, creator of Wilder Child and the Kids’ Moon Club and marvelous human, as part of our weekly Tinker Talk series. Enjoy Nicolette’s moon-loving wisdom in this video!
5: Start Something New
A new moon is a great time to start fresh or kick off something new. Use the full moon as a reminder to let go of something that is burdening you or to take an idea or practice you've wanted to start and give it a go. In summer, plant new seeds. Gardeners and farmers have been following the moon cycle for thousands of years, knowing that the moon's pull helps water in the soil better reach new seeds and seedlings during a full moon—amazing!
6: Take Notice of the Cycle
Make a habit to check in on the moon throughout the next month. Notice how it changes, when it’s in the sky during the daylight and what shape it takes at night. Our free monthly activity calendars include an image of which phase the moon is in each day to help you keep track. You can also think of it as simply welcoming the moon into your life in a more meaningful way. Nicolette advises, "When you are first greeting the cycle and getting comfortable with it, just do the welcoming and the emotive piece and root yourself inside of the cycle—don't feel like you need to rush into any activities.” We've started with simply making time for the moon and trying to notice it.
7: Discover How the Moon Organizes Life
It never really crossed my mind that the word month comes from words for “moon.” The very way we mark time and organize our lives comes from the moon and its cycles. In a way, we’re all already moving with the moon!
Many of us know that the moon’s gravitational pull is what drives the ocean tides, but it’s still pretty mind-blowing.
8: Learn Some Cool Moon Facts!
- There is a new full moon every 27 days or so, and it happens when the Earth is positioned almost right between the sun and the moon. That’s why the moon is fully illuminated (Earth rarely gets exactly between the two. When it does, it’s a lunar eclipse). Because the moon is aligned with the sun, a full moon rises right around sunset, shines all night long, and then "sets" when the sun rises again the next morning.
- Did you know the moon is a quarter the size of the earth? And that on its surface are seas filled with hardened lava?
- The moon doesn’t produce its own light; what we see is the sun reflected off of it.
- The moon is not actually a perfect sphere. Instead, it's shaped like an egg. When we look up at the moon from Earth, one of the small ends is pointing right at us, so it appears round to us.
- At roughly one-fourth the diameter of Earth, some scientists think the moon is more like a planet. They refer to the Earth-moon together as a "double planet."
- For more facts, visit National Geographic Kids or, for some real-time data and cool images, check out Nasa’s moon landing page.
9: Take the Moon for a Walk
It’s a Tinkergarten DIY activity, a beloved book and a super fun way to help kids notice how the moon follows us wherever we go! Try our activity; it’s both thrilling and calming under any moon, at any age.
10: Read Books about the Moon
Our team has compiled a list of our 13 favorite moon books. Read some of these to spark curiosity and tune even more into the magic of the moon!