Unit Study Idea: Mushrooms
Like strange flowers or magical dwellings, mushrooms are endlessly enchanting — and an ideal subject for nature study since you can delve as deep as you’re inspired. Even better: 2015 has been a bumper year for ’shrooms in some parts of the country, so there's never been a better time to add mushrooms to your curriculum.
Mushroom in the Rain by Mirra Ginsburg A little ant shares his mushroom umbrella with other forest creatures during a rainstorm.
The Wonderful Flight to the Mushroom Planet by Eleanor Cameron Two boys use their science skills to build a spaceship that takes them to a mushroom-filled planet, where they must help the inhabitants solve an environmental crisis.
Mushrooms of the World with Pictures to Color by Jeannette Bowers Learn to recognize more than one hundred different types of mushroom with this coloring book.
Katya’s Book of Mushrooms by Katya Arnold Gorgeous illustrations make this book by a Russian mushroom enthusiast worth seeking out.
Our Living World: Fungi by Jenny E. Tesar A practical, information-rich book, this volume is a nice introduction to mycology.
World Treasury of Mushrooms in Color by Bernard Dupre Just flipping through this book makes you aware of the impressive variety of mushrooms.
Mushrooms by Sylvia Plath This simple poem paints a vivid picture of fungi life.
Grow a Mushroom Garden: Grow your own edible garden of mushrooms with an easy-to-set-up kit. One to try: The Back to the Roots Organic Mushroom Farm
Make a Spore Print: Mushroom spores make beautiful prints. Mature mushrooms make the best prints, but it’s not always easy — even for pros — to tell which mushrooms are at their peak, so collect plenty of specimens and hope for the best. Martha Stewart has a handy tutorial for making spore prints on her website.
Practice Your Identification Skills: Identifying mushrooms is surprisingly challenging — there are so many varieties of fungi, and sometimes you need to know whether a mushroom is fully developed or just starting out to identify it correctly. But the challenge is part of the fun, and kids will learn as much trying to make an identification as they will successfully I.D.-ing a mushroom.
Learn from the Experts: Join the North American Mycological Association, and you’ll have access to all kinds of mushroom-focused learning materials, events, and publications. A family membership is just $30.