Category Archives: Kid Questions

10 cool kid facts for a Full Moon night.

Did you know that the full moon is the only moon that comes up at sunset and goes down at sunrise? That’s precisely what makes it so perfect for night hiking. What could possibly spice a hiking up like walking in the dark of night with no need for a headlamp and your shadow trailing behind you.

Here are a few other kid friendly facts I’ve learned about full moons.

1. Is the moon really perfectly round? The full moon may appear round, but is actually shaped like an egg with the pointed end facing earth.

2. Why is the moon bigger as it’s coming up over the horizon? Well, it’s not. Scientists have long battled to explain the “moon illusion”. The phenomenon is understood to be caused by human perception rather than the magnifying effect of the earth’s atmosphere.

3. How often do we see a full moon? The full moon occurs every 29.5 days – the duration of one complete lunar cycle.

4. What’s the ‘Flower Moon’ all about? The full moon has many names. The Algonquian people had a different name for each full moon, depending on the month. Each name is linked to the season and nature. My favorite is September’s Harvest Moon, but did you know the Strawberry Moon is the name for the full moon in June? This is because strawberries are ready for picking. Here’s a list of moon names and meanings.

5. How long does it take to travel to the moon? The moon is about 238,855 miles from earth. Traveling by car that would take 130 days. If you took a rocket it would take 13 hours. And should you choose to travel at the speed of light, you could get there in a meer 1.52 seconds.

6. How fast does the moon actually move? The moon travels around the earth at an average speed of 2,288 miles per hour. Sure doesn’t look that fast! Why do you think that is…? I have a few theories.

7. Why is the moon so bright? It’s actually not, well, not really. The moon is not a light source, it doesn’t make its own light, it reflects light from the sun. We can see the moon because light from the sun bounces off it back to the earth. If the sun wasn’t there, we wouldn’t be able to see the moon.

8. Why does the moon change shapes, then sometimes disappears entirely? The moon appears to change shape but what we are actually seeing is the moon lit up by the light from the sun in different ways on different days. Check out this graphic from red-roko (to the right). It shows this perfectly.

9. Where does the phrase “once in a Blue Moon” come from? The second full moon occurring within a calendar month is called a Blue Moon. The latest was seen on 31st May 2007. And just to put this phrase into context, his phenomenon occurs once every three years on average. 

10. Why does the moon follow me? If you’re driving down your street at night, it may look like the moon is chasing you, zooming behind the treetops to keep up with you. The moon isn’t actually following you, though. It’s just an optical illusion. The moon appears to follow you because it’s so far away. As you walk or drive along, things much closer to you, like trees and houses, appear to move between you and the moon making it look like it’s the moon that’s actually moving.

Mom, are we predators?

The other day we were sitting at Lake Tahoe looking at some crawdads.  We’d just caught them and they were scuttling around the bottom of our bucket.

Who would have thought a question about pincers could lead to a discussion on where meat comes from?

I think it’s important for kids to know that they’re part of the food chain. That they’re predators too. Just like a fish dies every time we feed our diving beetle, a chicken dies every time we eat nuggets… well, I think they’re from chickens…

Ari: Mom, why do crawdads and crabs have pincers?
Me: It’s their special adaptation for catching food.
Ari: But why don’t all animals have pincers?
Me: Not all animals need pinchers. Every animal has their own special adaptation for catching their prey.
Ari: You mean all predators have adaptations for catching their prey.
Me: Right. Minor technicality.
Ari: What does minor technicality mean?
Me: Never mind.
Ari. (Thinks for awhile)

Ari: Mom. Are we predators? (more…)

What do Pollinators do With the Pollen?

I was out for a walk with Ari yesterday when we happened upon a flowering plant swarming with flying insects. We stopped to watch what I told him were ‘pollinators’, in fact we sat there for about 30 minutes talking pollination and watching the swarm of flies, bees and wasps (being a former Bee Lab employee I’m hardwired to nerd out about this stuff). In the course of our study Ari asked what the ‘pollinators’ were going to do with the pollen. Excellent question son.

There are actually 2 kinds of pollinators:

Accidental Pollinators: These are things like flies, butterflies, boy bees, beetles, wasps, etc. just come to the flower to get a drink of the sugary liquid the plants make called nectar. While they are drinking, some of the pollen gets stuck to their legs and other parts of their bodies. Then, when they go to another flower to get another drink they accidentally drop some of the pollen off and end up picking up pollen from that plant. Mixing up the pollen like this helps the flowers make seeds.

Active Pollinators: These collect pollen on purpose, most of these are girl bees. Bees come to the flowers to get a drink of nectar and also to collect pollen to feed to their babies. The mom bee brings the pollen back to her nest and mixes it with nectar to make a little pollen cake. When her baby hatches out of its egg it eats the pollen cake so it can grow into an adult bee. When bees fly around collecting pollen, they pick up and drop off pollen at different flowers, helping the flowers make seeds as well.

Where’s All the Snow Going?

Today Ari and I were playing outside, it was sunny and the snow was melting pretty quick. Ari said “where’s all the snow going?” I took the opportunity for a little water cycle 101. We got a little clump of snow, set it on the patio in the sun, then laid down to watch and see if we could tell where it was going. It started disappearing, or rather melting right before our eyes! We talked about how the snow was turning into water and from there would do one of two things.

  1. It would seep into the soil to give water to plants.
  2. It would be evaporated back into the sky, turn into a cloud and later come back down as more rain or snow.

The coolest part was that we could actually see water vapor rising up from the patio. It was a beautiful moment.

I found this cool graphic of the water cycle when I did an image search, I loved it even more when I found out it was part of an online story made by kids called Water the Never Ending Story. The whole book is really well done!

Why Does The Wind Blow?

The boys and I were out in the hammock one day when all the sudden the wind started picking up. Ari looked at me and said “Mom, why does the wind blow”. My initial response went something like this: “Uuuuummmm weeeeellll, there’s warm air around us right now and there’s cold air that wants to come in. When this happens it’s kind of like the cold and warm air are fighting to see who gets to stay, and this makes it windy. Tomorrow when we wake up we will get to go outside, feel the air, and we will be able to tell who won”. I know it’s not totally accurate, I wasn’t sure  how to explain pressure to a 4 year old…

I looked around on the web and found a few decent resources on explaining wind to kids.

  • This site had some good background information.
  • I laughed when I found this song about wind, it’s cheesy, but since Ari loves music it was a hit.
  • This is is a link to lots of different books on wind. I plan to check a few out on our next trip to the library.
  • I also think I’ll make this windsock and weather vane for the yard.

Overall I’m still having trouble coming up with the perfect 4 year old explanation for wind. I know the perfect one liner is out there somewhere… Ideas?

The boys and I riding the wind in the hammock.


    I'm Lindsey. I'm an environmental educator, my husband's a biologist. The outdoors is infused into everything we do; which explains why I'm better at mud pies than home decorating. More About Me

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