Lesson Plan for Teaching about Fungi
This is a suggested introductory lesson plan for teaching K-12 classes in schools and nature centers about fungi. The length of school classes is generally 45-60 minutes. The lesson should cover that time frame.
To learn about the basic characteristics of the Kingdom of Fungi.
If the teacher or presenter is teaching more than one class during the day, allow 15 minutes before the class arrives to set up the classroom prior to the first class.
If the teacher or presenter is to move from class to class, plan time to choose some students to help carry the materials from class to class. If the students have just had the lesson, they can help set up the material very quickly.
Another option could be to set up the materials in the library, science center or empty room for the whole day, and have the classes held there.
Yet another option could be to set up the classroom during lunchtime when classes are in the cafeteria.
Prepare three tables:
- Table 1: Cover with newspaper for display of both fresh and dried fungi (up to 30 species, to be separated into groups: gills, pores, teeth, polypores, other. (Favorites are puffballs, earthstars and "dead man's fingers.")
- Table 2: Lay out the following: Books, spore prints, hand lenses, dental mirrors, magnifying stand, color wheel of wool samples dyed with fungi.
- Table 3: Display books selected from the list of recommended reference books so students may compare the fresh mushrooms to photographs or drawings in books.
- Display: large posters, such as Poisonous and Edible Fungi by David Arora (available on the Internet)
- Have available: Plain drawing paper, several sizes; crayons, color markers, pencils.
- Optional: A desk in the classroom with microscope, to look at microscopic features.
- Contents of the Manual of Instructional Materials for Teachers and Naturalists Teaching about Fungi, Grades K-12. All materials may be downloaded free — for educational use only.
- How Mushrooms Grow (nine drawings to be projected onto screen)
- The following may be used as handouts for the appropriate grade level:
- Prepare displays in classroom and set up projector before students arrive, if possible.
- If bringing in a presenter, prepare both the children and the presenter ahead of time about what to expect in the lessons.
- Introduction of presenter.
- Project the nine drawings of How Mushrooms Grow, with presenter and class discussing briefly each drawing, with questions and feed back. (5 to 10 minutes).
- Presenter or teacher models the use of hand lenses with fungi specimens from the display, then passes around hand lenses and fungi for students to examine. (10 minutes.)
- Teacher hands out to students the questions to be answered as homework.
- Teacher divides the class into small groups to take turns going around the tables, handling the fungi, examining them with hand lenses or under the big magnifying lens on its stand, comparing the fungi on the posters to those in the books, looking at spore prints, or asking questions. Students at their desks can answer questions on their handouts, read one of the books on display, or draw/color fungi. (25 minutes)
- If there is any time remaining, the class can return to their seats and the presenter will lead a discussion about the answers to the questions on the handout.
- If there is more time after the lesson, or on another day, follow-up lessons and activities are offered in the files of the Manual of Instructional Materials for Teachers and Naturalists Teaching about Fungi. There are choices for a walk in nearby woods or additional classroom activities.
- NOTE: the additional NAMA Education Resources, including Mushroom Teaching Kits, Books for Young People, Recommended Reference Books, Educational Programs, and Online Teaching Resources.
- This lesson can be adapted for older students or adults with additional material elsewhere on this website. Photos of local mushrooms in different seasons can be shown. Simple mushroom identification keys and checklists of genera are helpful, too.
- Even more teaching material, written by Gary Lincoff, author of the National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Mushrooms, can be found at www.nemf.org.
- An excellent additional source of teaching material on fungi for all levels is on Tom Volk's website.
Submit questions and suggested new materials to Sandy Sheine by email.