Lesson Plan: 13 Moons

By: Jennifer Moore

Jennifer Moore

Education Collaborator

Based in Dundas, Ontario, Jen is currently a Kindergarten teacher with a passion for outdoor learning and inquiry-led, play-based programs. Before becoming a classroom educator in 2007, she studied International Development, with a focus on marginalized groups which led her to work at World Vision Canada. Her decision to move into public education was motivated by a deep desire to build relationships that inspire learners to ask questions and seek change. In both her personal and professional life, Jen is involved in a variety of leadership roles, including consulting, mentoring, and participating as a writer/contributor to various projects. Jen is a strong believer in life-long learning and passionate about nature and being outdoors; in this humbling space she has developed a commitment to advocate for Indigenous rights and is dedicated to equity, anti-racism, and inclusion.

Objective and Context

This is a guide to begin exploring the 13 Moons as a way of tracking and understanding our environment and the passage of time. It is intended to initiate conversations around the importance of honouring Indigenous knowledge in our classrooms, encouraging young learners to ask questions that inspire new learning, and seek understanding around First Nations, Métis, and Inuit history, culture and knowledge. These activities focus on the concept of Etuaptmumk (Two-Eyed Seeing) to help educators and students incorporate both Indigenous and Western knowledge into learning.

Learning alongside young students about the 13 Moons is an exciting and developmentally relevant approach to noticing, naming, and discussing the passage of time. This learning experience gives students the opportunity to develop an understanding of a Gregorian calendar and the changes that are happening in the natural world as recorded by many Indigenous communities.

As a four-season inquiry, this provocation can serve as a catalyst for other questions and explorations throughout the school year. By helping students to sharpen their ability to notice and name changes in their environment, we can encourage them to cultivate an understanding of and connection to nature, and begin to build an understanding of how Indigenous and Western understandings can work together.

Recommended Grade Level

The framework of this learning experience is designed to be woven into an inquiry-led, play-based Kindergarten (or Early Years) program. However, the material can also be used and adapted by primary, junior, and intermediate teachers to suit the needs of their respective groups and curricula. These lessons have been created to support educators who have a desire to integrate Indigenous knowledge into their classrooms while cultivating an understanding of cultures, history, and ways of knowing.

Areas of Exploration
  • Literacy
  • Numeracy
  • Social Studies
  • Science
  • Belonging
  • Identity
  • Community
  • Connection
  • Expression

September to June (as a possibility but can be started at any time)

This is an ongoing inquiry that lends itself to rich conversations about the natural world and the changes that occur in every season. Investigations can be revisited each month as the full moon approaches and students record the changes they notice in their outdoor space (e.g. playground, local conservation, backyards, nearby greenspace, etc.). If a classroom does not have access to green space, educators can invite volunteers to bring in evidence from the local environment or share their own discoveries and observations.

Learning Goals

Students will:

Additional Background for Educators

Etuaptmumk (Mi’kmaw for Two-Eyed Seeing) is the practice of incorporating knowledge from both Indigenous and Western perspectives when seeking to understand the world and everything in it. This process of looking at all things from these two perspectives (both Indigenous and Western) lends itself to a more balanced picture of humankind and nature, as well as the impact of one on the other.  Approaching inquiry-based learning from this perspective benefits educators, students, families, and the community. We would encourage you to consider what Etuaptmumk could look like in a Kindergarten classroom.

The 13 Moons are used by many Indigenous communities across Turtle Island as a method of tracking seasonal changes and the passage of time. While they do not necessarily align with the Western 12-month calendar, this resource has blended the two to provide a framework for classroom educators. The concepts and exploration of the 13 Moons can be woven into individual programs as a way of encouraging exploration and rich interactions with the local land and environment. 

Each of the 13 Moons will have an Indigenous name, and within the meaning of that name there are often descriptions, instructions, or sacred ceremonies tied to a specific region or community. Educators are encouraged to learn the original names of each moon and take time to unpack the language connected to the naming of the moons. 

Since the 13 Moons are connected to specific regions and the First Nations, Métis or Inuit communities in that location, it is important to connect with an Elder in your area who can speak to the 13 Moons and their significance. Many school boards throughout Canada have dedicated Indigenous education leads, consultants and/or community partners who are available to support classroom educators.

Supporting Materials for Educators

First Nations:

  1. Thirteen Moons Curriculum
  2. Indigenous Moon
  3. Lessons from the Earth & Beyond: Grandmother Moon
  4. Integrating First Nations & Metis Content & Perspective (Pre-Kindergarten)
  5. The 13 Moons of the Wsanec
  6. Mi’kmaw Moons connects with Two-Eyed Seeing


  1. Leah Marie Dorion: Thirteen Moons
  2. Time & the Métis Sash


  1. The Inuit Sky
  2. Window to the Universe

Long Range Plan and Suggested Activities

FALL: September/October/November
Guiding QuestionsWatch/ReadActivitiesExtensions
How do you track (or measure) time?

What is a calendar?

Does everyone use a 12-month calendar?

Have you ever seen a full moon? What do you know about it? What do you wonder?

Thirteen Moons on a Turtle’s Back with George Couchie

Thirteen Moons on a Turtle’s Back by Joseph Bruchac & Jonathan London


Moon by Britta Teckentrup

Walking Together by Elder Albert Marshall
Mark each full moon on your class’s 12-month calendar. Have students help record the ‘name’ of each moon.

Around the time of the full moon, begin talking about the changes you might see in the natural world. Gather evidence from your outdoor space (or have students bring in evidence from their outdoor time at home). As well, notice the things that are happening with weather, plants, trees, etc. be sure to extend student observations to include the activities that animals and people may be starting (or stopping) around this time. Students can use individual observation sheets and/or start a shared writing book. (See templates at the end of this page.)

Connect with an Elder (invite them into your classroom if possible) to teach students about the 13 Moons and their significance. 
Consider dedicating a space in your classroom to track the 13 Moons and display student observations as they’re shared.

Help students to ask questions about their observations: “You noticed that the leaves are turning brown, why do you think that’s happening?” 

Introduce the significance of the turtle in the history and naming of Turtle Island.
Assessment OpportunitiesLiteracy & Numeracy
Social Studies
Inquiry & Problem-Solving
Belonging & Contributing
Identity & Community
Connection & Expression
WINTER: December/January/February
Guiding QuestionsWatch/ReadActivitiesExtensions
How can we record the things that we notice?

What is happening in our environment (and the natural world) that lines up with the name of the moon?


Full Moon Loreby Ellen Wahi 

or Read it

Full Moon Lore 

ReflectAre the moons in this story the same as the moons we’re learning about? What is the same? What is different?
Continue to model how we make meaningful observations. Outdoors, ask: What do you notice? What is here? Or, what isn’t here that was before? (Educators might prompt students to notice that the ice is gone, or that the leaves have blown away, perhaps there is a bird that has migrated or an insect or animal that was noticed previously but has changed along with the cycle of the moon.)

Show students how you can track changes in the natural world using pictures and words (or photos and video, if technology is available).

Maintain an on-going relationship with Elders and members of local Indigenous communities to share their knowledge within your classroom.

Engage families! Send a letter home to involve caregivers in collecting evidence from nature. (See template below.)
Explore the significance of the turtle within many Indigenous beliefs and culture. 
Why is it important? What stories are connected to the turtle?


The Earth on the Turtle’s Back by M. J Bruchac

Activity (fine motor):

Cut & Paste Turtle 
Assessment OpportunitiesLiteracy & Numeracy
Social Studies
Inquiry & Problem-Solving
Belonging & Contributing
Identity & Community
Connection & Expression
SPRING: March/April/May
Guiding QuestionsWatch/ReadActivitiesExtensions
Does the moon change or stay the same?

What do we learn about the moon from Indigenous stories?

What do we learn about the moon from Western science?

Telling of How the Moon Came to Be

The (New) Moon Tehanhent with Isaac Murdoch


If You Were the Moon by Laura Purdie Sala

Once in a Blue Moon by Danielle Daniel 
The spring is an exciting time to gather evidence outdoors! 

Continue to make observations around what is happening in your outdoor space (or local green space). Encourage students to use all 5 senses to engage with their observations. (See template below)

Begin to talk about the different phases of the moon and the impact each phase has on the earth.

Encourage students to represent their learning about the moon using a variety of art materials (paint, clay, playdough, pastels, water colour, etc.).

ExploreWhat is a New Moon?What is a Blue Moon? When do we see the 13th Moon?
Brainstorm a list of ways that students can share their understanding of the moon with others.

Perhaps engage older classes by setting up your artwork as a gallery and invite teachers to bring their students through to see the artwork and ‘meet the artists.’

Or host a sharing circle for multiple classes to listen to the stories and teachings from the Indigenous Elder who has spoken to your group.
Assessment OpportunitiesLiteracy & Numeracy
Social Studies
Inquiry & Problem-Solving
Belonging & Contributing
Identity & Community
Connection & Expression and the Arts
SUMMER: June (looking ahead to July/August)
Guiding QuestionsWatch/ReadActivitiesExtensions
How does the moon make you feel?

Why is the moon important?

Can we use the moon to measure time?

The 12-month calendar is another way that we can measure time. What other things can we measure?

A Moon of My Own by Jennifer Rustgi

Or Read It:

A Moon of My Own
Reflect on your whole class and individual learning throughout the year connected to each full moon, the moon phases and your cumulative observations, evidence and new understandings.

How has your thinking changed? What new questions do you have?

Did your class’s observations match the seasonal changes connected to each of the 13 Moons? If they didn’t, explore what could be happening in the world to cause this disconnect.  

Synthesize and celebrate your learning by leading students to express their learning through song, and dance. Possibly have them mimic the movement of the tides connected to the phases of the moon, or have them pick songs and music that express how each of the 13 Moons makes them feel.

What else can we learn from the turtle? 

Unpack the Seven Grandfather Teachings and the character trait of ‘Truth.’

Consider looking at your school’s Land Acknowledgement and talk about it as a class. What can your students tell you about its meaning and importance? What other ways could your school and the surrounding community engage with land and nature?

Over the summer, send home a copy of your class’s shared writing booklet with each student. Provide two blank pages (three if there’s a blue moon in July or August!) for students to complete over the summer.
Assessment OpportunitiesLiteracy & Numeracy
Social Studies
Inquiry & Problem-Solving
Belonging & Contributing
Identity & Community
Connection & Expression and the Arts


Sample Letter to Families
Individual or Whole Group Observation
5 Senses Observation
Educator Planning Template