Biology, Mycology 6-12
Mushrooms are a type of fungus that can be found on forest floors, but also on backyard lawns! We think it is especially important to introduce children to the study of mushrooms since most children might have misconceptions believing that mushrooms are plants, and that fungus means mushroom. Although mushrooms appear to have the same lifestyle as plants, they are extremely different. They do not perform photosynthesis; and therefore, they need to find food in their environment.
Mushrooms are the fruiting bodies of living organisms, of which the majority of the organism is a network of threads growing underground. They do not need light as many living organisms do, and find various ways to survive. Some mushrooms grow and feed on dead organisms (plants or animals,) while others develop symbiotic relationships with other living organisms that provide them food in return. The branch of biology that studies fungi is called mycology. I chose to share with you these materials from Alison’s Montessori that we use because they are unique on the market. At the elementary level, children begin to explore the Kingdoms of Life, and among them, the Fungus Kingdom. The materials on Parts of a Mushrooms and Types of Mushrooms corroborate the Biology Montessori curriculum brilliantly. Below, you will find a list of various materials for all ages and learning styles, and also some suggestions on how to incorporate them effectively in children’s experience.
- Parts of a Mushroom Puzzle (A wooden puzzle, a control chart, 6 wooden labels)
- Parts of a Mushroom Nomenclature Cards (3-6) (7 parts described: 21 cards total, a control chart, a booklet, a blackline master)
- Parts of a Mushroom Nomenclature Cards (6-9) (7 parts described: 42 cards total, a control chart, a booklet, a blackline master)
- Types of Mushrooms Puzzle (A wooden puzzle)
- Types of Mushrooms Nomenclature Cards (3-6) (12 mushrooms described: 36 cards total)
- Types of Mushrooms Nomenclature Cards (6-9) (12 mushrooms described: 48 cards total)
Optional: Fungus Kingdom Chart w/Cards
Parts of the Mushroom Puzzle and Nomenclature Cards
Children can start by learning the basic Parts of a Mushroom using a real specimen. You may want to purchase mushrooms and set up a tray where a mushroom can be dissected and observed. Parts of a Mushroom is based on the very well-known mushroom, Fly Agaric, which displays the following parts: cap, gills, scales, stalk annulus, volva, and mycelium. The cap is the uppermost protective part of a mushroom. It is sometimes covered with hard scales. The gills are the spore-producing parts of the mushroom. The stalk serves to support the cap, the ring is a remnant from the immature growing mushroom, and the volva is a thick membrane that protects the foot.
You will find the materials to cater to various learning styles, and offer choices. Children can be invited to a botany lesson. Invite children to share their experiences with mushrooms. Ask about facts or personal experiences. Ask children the name of the mushroom on the puzzle. To entice children to learn about mushrooms, share 10 facts about the fascinating Fly Agaric mushroom! You can let children construct and label the puzzle as you read the Types of Mushrooms Nomenclature Cards together. As you read the Nomenclature Cards, place the control cards (picture and name) from top to bottom on the left corner of the working space. Place the description cards to the right of the control card. If you are working with the description cards without labels, place the labels below the description cards.
After the presentation, children can be invited to use supplemental materials as follow-up activities. For this purpose, the materials provide a reproducible booklet and backline master, which can be prepared in advance and left with the materials on the shelf.
Types of Mushrooms Puzzle and Nomenclature Cards
Another day, invite children to learn more about mushrooms using Types of Mushrooms. You may be able to find Oyster, Chanterelle, or Morel mushrooms at the store to serve as real-life specimens. The puzzle contains a variety of mushrooms, some edible and some deadly poisonous: Common Inkcap, Morel, Shaggy Scalycap, Orange Oak Bolete, Saffron Milkcap, Wooly Milkcap, Fly Agaric, Honey Fungus, Chanterelle, Oyster, Shaggy Inkcap, and Parasol. It is a good opportunity to provide safety guidelines about mushrooms.
While reading through Types of Mushrooms Nomenclature Cards, place each control card from top to bottom, and let children match the picture and label cards placing them to the right of the control cards. You may also choose to simply use the picture cards to match with the puzzle pieces. Children enjoy one-on-one correspondence work.
You may want to share with children the Fungus Kingdom chart. Children can locate the subkingdoms in which mushrooms belong. You can invite children to investigate other fungi or mushrooms of their choice, and write a report in their science journal. Finally, many supplemental materials can be added to augment this lesson such as books, painting mushrooms, creating mushrooms with salt dough, drawing/coloring mushrooms. In addition, you want to go for a nature walk and see if you can find some mushrooms to observe in their habitat!
I hope you found some inspiration and guidance in this post. Mushrooms are truly fascinating! And if like us, you love eating mushrooms, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to incorporate store-purchased mushroom tasting into a lesson! All it takes is a crack of salt, and a crack of pepper!
As always, Alison’s Montessori made this experience for us possible by providing me at no cost these fabulous materials, and not for a review. I write unbiased reviews based on materials that have been effective for us. The quality of the materials is always consistent and uncompromised.
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