Home School Life Journal From Preschool to High School

Home School Life Journal ........... Ceramics by Katie Bergenholtz
"Let us strive to make each moment beautiful."
Saint Francis DeSales

Mushrooms (Handbook of Nature Study;Lesson # 198)

“...this is exactly what a child should be doing for the first few years.
He should be getting familiar with the real things in his own environment.
Some day he will read about things he can’t see; how will he conceive of them without the knowledge of common objects in his experience to relate them to?
Some day he will reflect contemplate, reason.
What will he have to think about without a file of knowledge collected and stored in his memory?”
Charlotte Mason, volume 1 page 66
Look what we found! These are some of the largest mushrooms I have ever seen. Mushrooms seed themselves with spores that drop from their gills in beautiful patterns. so we brought one in to make a print of these patterns. We carefully placed the mushroom, gill side down, on a piece of construction paper. We chose black paper since the shade of the gills was white. If the gills had been black, we would have chosen a light shade of paper to contrast best. We left the mushroom undisturbed for about 24 hours, and look at this beautiful pattern! We sprayed the print with hair spray to keep it from smudging.
"Although mushrooms are not really plants, they are often discussed with the nonvascular plants because scientists used to think that they were nonvascular plants. Scientists now classify them as a fungus, a special kind of living thing that is a decomposer."
"The ideal method would be to study the mushrooms in the field and forest, making an excursion for the purpose of collecting as many species as possible."

"Since mushrooms are especially good subjects for watercolor and pencil studies, it would add much interest if each pupil or the school as a whole, should make a portfolio of sketches of all the species found." Handbook of Nature Study, age 717
 "Mushrooms are the fruiting organs of the fungi which grown in the form of threads, spreading in every direction through the food material. The dust which falls from the ripe mushrooms is made up of spores, which are not true seeds, but which will start a new growth of the fungus." -Handbook of Nature Study, page 717

Some mushrooms the boys found on our trip to the Salem Avery Museum.

Once they began to notice mushrooms, they found them everywhere!

Something had cut this one off and turned it over, exposing the gills.

"(There is) no wonder that many superstitions cluster about toadstools. In times of old, not only was it believed that toads sat on them, but that fairies danced upon them and used them for umbrellas......But science, in these days, brings revelations concerning these mysterious plants which are far more wonderful than the web which superstition wove about them in days of yore."-Handbook of Nature Study, page 714
It may be hard to tell from this picture but a mushroom "fairy ring" surrounds our van.
You can see part of the ring in the foreground and, if you look closely, you can see a couple more at the back.
The rest are beyond the picture on the right.
We just couldn't get the whole ring in the picture.
It was that large!
 To further our study, we found this unusual and very informative book called Katya's Book of Mushrooms by Katya Arnold and Sam Swope. It's lovely, accurate illustrations show the differences between poisonous and non-poisonous mushrooms. Not that I would pick and eat mushrooms from the forest, but it was interesting to see.
 It shows a type of mushroom called a bolete.
 The illustrations are realistically accurate but often have a fairy tale quality about them.
 We loved the illustration showing the parts of a mushroom, showing that the Mycelium, or the largest part of the mushroom is underground, which explains the fairy rings.
I highly recommend this book for studying mushrooms with children.


  1. We don't have many mushrooms around here except during our rainy season of Jan/Feb/Mar. The fairy circle is amazing! I have never seen that before.

    Thanks for sharing your link.

  2. Those mushrooms are beautiful and I love the book you have to go with it! The illustrations are quite vivid. I'll have to look for that one. :)

  3. Y'all are so smart! Amazing, thorough study. I love the print the mushroom made.

  4. oh wow! I had NO idea mushrooms would do that with the paper?! Do they ALL do that?! So awesome!

  5. Yes, Caroline, they all can make spore prints. You can even use the ones you can get at the grocery store.

  6. We did a mushroom study last year and had a blast, including the gill print!!! How fun!!! With all the rain we've had this week, we've seen some pretty cool mushrooms popping up!

  7. I love the gill pattern.

  8. My son is so into mushroom. Thank you for linking up to Read.Explore. Learn. I will be sharing all this with him.

  9. Thanks so much for linking to Read ALoud Thursday!!! This is a fabulous post that combines two of my very favorite things--books and nature! This looks like a fantastic resource for mushroom studies!

  10. These mushrooms are BIG! And the drawings are super. That is a wonderful study.


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