• North American Mycological Association

    Promoting, pursuing and advancing mycology

  • Asociación Micológica de América del Norte

    Perseguir y hacer avanzar la micología

  • Association Mycologique d'Amérique du Nord

    Poursuivre et faire progresser la mycologie

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 and your lesson should cover that time frame.


To learn about the basic characteristics of the Kingdom of Fungi.


  • How Mushrooms Grow, nine drawings to be projected onto screen
  • Use the following as handouts for the appropriate Grade level:
  • Two tables, one covered with newspaper for display of both fresh and dried fungi, about 30 species, separated into groups, gills, pores, teeth, polypores, other. Favorites are puffballs, earthstars and dead man's fingers.
  • Second table for books, spore prints, hand lenses, dental mirrors, magnifying stand, color wheel of wool samples dyed with fungi.
  • Books selected from list on NAMA web site. Students like to compare fresh mushrooms to pictures in books or on mushroom posters
  • Optional... 16" x 20" mushroom posters, such as Poisonous and Edible Fungi by David Arora, available on the web
  • Plain drawing paper, crayons or color markers.
  • Optional... microscope in classroom to look at microscopic features.

Lesson Plan

  • Prepare displays in classroom and set up projector before students arrive, if possible.
  • Introduction of Presenter.
  • Question and answer period with students on why fungi differ from plants and animals and what they have in common. Allay fear of touching mushrooms (hand washing afterwards). (5 minutes)
  • Projection of How Mushrooms Grow, nine drawings about reproduction, types of fungi, how they obtain their food and their role in the environment. Presenter and class discussion on each drawing, with questions and feedback. (5-10 minutes)
  • Presenter discusses the fungi specimens displayed on the table and passes around some hand lenses and fungi for the students to examine. (10 minutes)
  • Teacher gives students the handout of questions to be answered for homework
  • Teacher divides the class in groups, with groups taking turns going around the two tables, handling the fungi, examining them with hand lenses or under the big magnifying lens on a stand, comparing the fungi to the posters and photos in books, looking at spore prints and asking questions. The students at their desks can start answering the questions on the handouts, read one of the books on display, or color or draw fungi. (25 minutes)
  • If there is any remaining time, the class can return to their seats and the presenter will lead a discussion about the answers to the questions on the handout.
  • If you are teaching more than one class during the day, ask the teacher for 15 minutes to set up the classroom prior to the first class. If you are moving from class to class, ask the teacher to choose some students to help you carry your materials. Since these students have just had the lesson, they will help you set up the material very quickly. Another option would be to set up the material in the library, science center or empty room, for the whole day and have the classes come to you. Another option is to set up the classroom during lunch when the class is in the cafeteria.
  • 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 the woods or additional classroom activities.
  • Please note the additional NAMA Education Resources, including Mushroom Teaching Kits, Books for Young People, Recommended Reference Books, Programs for Loan, and Online Teaching Resources.
  • This lesson can be adapted for older students or for adults with additional material from the NAMA website. Photos of mushrooms in different seasons can be shown. Simple keys and checklists are helpful, too.
  • There is also a lot of teaching material written by Gary Lincoff at www.nemf.org.

Submit questions and new materials to Sandy Sheine by email.