World Culture Activity: Lunar Pareidolia

What special shapes and patterns do you see around you?

Activity best for children age 2 and up

If you’ve ever observed special shapes or patterns in things around you (like the clouds or the moon) you might’ve experienced something called pareidolia! Throughout history, people from different cultures have created amazing stories and legends about lunar pareidolia – the shapes they see in the moon’s craters. In this activity, we recreate different cultures’ folklore (Chinese, African, and Maori) while drawing shapes with chalk.

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Materials You’ll Need:

Black paper


Guiding Questions:

What is special about each culture’s lunar pareidolia?



Draw a circle with white chalk and create the craters on the moon by rubbing in the chalk with your finger.

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Choose your favorite folklore from below and trace the lunar pareidolia of your choice!

Chinese Rabbit Moon

In some East-Asian cultures, moon-gazers see a rabbit. A folklore that originated in China says the man from the moon came down to earth and he was very hungry. The rabbit had nothing to offer, so he offered himself for the man to eat. The man liked the rabbit so much, he carried the rabbit back to the moon to live with him.

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African Frog Moon

Some Native American, African, and Chinese cultures see a frog in the moon. In one African myth, a great king wanted his son to marry the moon king’s daughter – the princess of the moon. No one knew how to tell the moon king, but a frog volunteered to take the message. One night, when the moon princess came to the frog’s pond for water, the frog hopped into her bucket and traveled with her back to the moon. Then he told the moon king that the earth prince wanted to marry the princess and the frog has been on the moon ever since.

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Maori’s Roni Moon

Another lunar pareidolia is from the indigenous Maori people of mainland New Zealand. Because they live in the southern hemisphere, they actually see a moon that is upside down from how we see the moon in the USA! One Maori folktale is about a woman in the moon named Rona who was carrying a bucket of water. One night when Rona tripped, she fell and got stuck on the moon forever. The Maori people say that it rains when Rona’s bucket of water pours out.

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Man in the Moon

And of course, in Western culture, we usually say that there is a man in the moon! Some think that he looks a little bit like this. Which story did you like the most?

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Grown Ups-Are you looking for more ways to extend your child’s learning? Check out these extension activities to build upon today’s STREAM activity!

Reading Connections:

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Luna and the Moon Rabbit by Lawrence Schimel