Beacon Lesson Plan Library

The Lunar and Terrestrial Tug of War

Cody James


Students work in groups to locate, comprehend, interpret, and evaluate information about celestial bodies that influence ocean tides on Earth. Students apply this information through graphic representations.


The student understands the relationships between events on Earth and the movements of the Earth, its Moon, the other planets, and the Sun.


-Science textbooks
-Internet access and
-White or cream-colored construction paper approximately 18” X 24” (two per group)
-Colored pencils/1 box per student
-Protractor or compass/1 per student
-Ruler/1 per student


1. Prepare one copy per student of the checklist in the associated file.

2. Purchase and assemble these materials for the poster:
-construction paper (two sheets per student)
-colored pencils (one pack per student)
-protractors or compasses (one per student, and
-rulers (one per student).

3. Access the Internet at and At the latter site, use their search tool and input How do tides work? Select the option that reads Tides and the Moon (nice animation).


1. Divide the class into groups of two students each.

2. Ask students if any of them have ever participated in a tug-of-war? Give a few minutes for students to respond and briefly discuss their replies. Additional questions may include the following: How does a team win a tug-of-war? Are there any factors that would give a team an advantage?

3. Ask students what factors usually determine who wins? What part does strength or size play in a tug-of-war?

4. Tell the students there is a tug of war going on between the Earth and the moon.

5. Tell students that it would seem that the Earth would easily win in a tug-of-war game with the moon since the Earth is much larger that the moon. Examples of contests between large and small people or things include a weight lifting contest between a light-weight person and one who is clasified as a heavy-weight or a collision between a car and a large truck. In both of these examples, we usually think of size as being the most important factor. Does the gravitational pull of the moon have any observable effect on the earth? Note: Be prepared to add possible responsible responses to the questions and enhance what the students might say.

6. Distribute a copy of the Tug-of-War checklist to each student. The checklist is located in the associated file.

7. Explain to the students to use their textbooks and the Internet to research, graphically represent, and describe the factors that are involved in the tidal effects seen primarily at high and low tides.

8. Tell the students to use captions along the side or bottom of charts to define terms and explain the relationships.

9. Direct the students to write two paragraphs: the first, explaining the effects of the Sun’s gravitational pull on the Earth’s oceans, and the second, explaining the effects of the moon’s gravity on the Earth.

10. Tell students to use the checklist to ensure all related information is included.

11. As each group completes the lesson, take up the charts and assess the work based on the checklist and accuracy of the charts.


Students will be required to draw diagrams that will be assessed as to the requirements set forth on the checklist located in the associated file. The diagrams will be checked to determine if information was located and comprehended during the students' research using their textbooks and the Internet web-sites listed as resources for this lesson.

Attached Files

Tug of War checklist for teacher     File Extension: pdf

Tug of War checklist for student     File Extension: pdf

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