Nature Study – Fungi

Welcome to my 10 Days Series on the topic of nature study! Each of the ten days brings you a creative nature walk idea and a fun follow-up activity to spark your enthusiasm for nature study today!

Why study nature?

The answer is more serious than you might think.

Today’s nature study: Fungi

Nature Study: Fungi

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Creative Walk:

Finding fungi is easiest in the spring or fall when temperatures are warm and the weather has been moist.  Look in grasses, on ground clutter, on trees and even on rocks.  They especially like shaded areas like woods, for instance.  There are tremendous varieties of shapes, textures and patterns among fungi. Choose one of those characteristics (either shape, texture or pattern) to observe more closely as you discover fungi on your walk today.  Draw sketches and jot notes in a nature notebook for each fungus you find.  Discuss comparisons from one fungus to another.

Please do not touch, taste or smell fungi.  Some can be dangerous.  Eye observations only!

Follow-up Activity:

Fungi can grow almost anywhere! We find them in nature, on foods, on our bodies and some even grow well in deep bodies of water. Each type of fungus has its own needs to grow well, but generally, their basic needs are moisture, warmth and darkness. For today’s follow-up activity, choose one fungus that you found on your nature walk and research its particular needs.  Write a paragraph about or draw a picture chart of those needs.

Fungi are sometimes difficult to identify precisely.  Use a field guide to attempt identification.  If you aren’t entirely sure you can correctly identify it, you will at least know the group of fungi in which it belongs – like slimes, puffballs, or polypores, for instance. (P.S. The field guide will help you determine the group.)

After researching the needs of your fungus, consider these questions: Do you think fungi grow better in tropical areas? Why or why not? Do you think fungi grow well in arctic areas? Why or why not?

Fungus Field Guides I Recommend:

Today’s fungus ideas are just a very small sampling of the nature study suggestions you’ll find in the NaturExplorers A Fungus Among Us study!


  1. Grear series!! I just found your blog, I’m going to have to check out all your archives! I’m just gearing up for kindergarten w my son this fall and heard you speak over the weekend at the convention!

  2. My friends and I loved your session at the conference!! You packed the house!! We’re already planning our nature club!!

  3. Oh, Sarah, thank you! I can’t wait to hear about your new nature club!!

  4. I love funguses 🙂 I took a class in college on it for my degree, and it was a riot to hear our prof talk about it – he was British. IT was a great class, but I haven’t thought much about it since, and certainly not with the kids. We have seen the “horsehoof” type fungus, but past that, I worry about the poisonousness of the ‘shrooms with my little one. So we just move on to other topics. Silly Sally! About the closest has been whether or not you should step inside a fairy ring. NO! DO NOT STEP IN A FAIRY RING!

  5. Sarah James says:

    I’m one of Sarah’s friends for the “Nature Club”. We are SO very excited and loved your session at conference. I can’t wait to get started…but I think I’d rather do the other studies and save fungus for later (I think they are gross….lol). I know my boys will love the fungus study when get there.

  6. I love all of the different nature walk ideas you’ve been sharing during this series.

  7. Ooh! I think we’ll go on a fungus walk when the rain stops. 🙂

  8. MatschMomma says:

    Ohhhh this will be so much fun! We can check out the woods and the river. Thanks!!

  9. Perfect time for mushroom-hunting! As soon as the rain stops, that is.

  10. Thanks for all these great ideas.

  11. Ohh how cool!!!!! My boys would love to have this study! I might have to buy this one!!

  12. Glad you two are jumping into a nature club! I bet once you study fungi once, you’ll decide they’re way too cool to be gross. 😉

  13. Cindy Crissman says:

    Really enjoyed looking at your unit studies at the Convention over the weekend. We will be doing some of them!

  14. I hope you enjoy them! Thanks for the sweet comment. 🙂

  15. Jeanne Hicks says:

    I enjoyed meeting you at the Cincy convention–I can’t wait to start our nature study about creeks!

  16. AS I mentioned on FB the other day, we’ve been doing this study for the last week, and I think it’s by far the best one yet! We’re loving it!

  17. I remember looking for the “smoke bomb” ones as a kid and stepping on them so the smoke would come out. Does that qualify as fungus? Do you know what those are actually called?

  18. Puffball mushrooms (many varieties) send their spores out in what seems like a little explosion. :o) They’re fun to watch, aren’t they??

  19. Neither the fungus study or the erosion study are best-sellers, but they are by far two of the most interesting and unique studies I have. Glad you’re enjoying it!

  20. It was good to meet you, too! Enjoy!

  21. I was at the Cincinnati conference as well and I loved your session!

  22. Ahh, Fungus Among Us. My husband hates mushrooms and always refers to them as fungus when I eat them!

  23. Thanks, Gina! The whole weekend was such a blessing.

  24. We’ve not study fungi — yet. Maybe homemade mushroom pizza would be fun to wrap it up. 😉

  25. Amazing how many different fungi we found even in our small back yard. It was also interesting to see how quickly they changed their appearance. After just 24 hours some were almost unrecognizable.

  26. Yes, that’s because the fruiting bodies of most fungi are only necessary as long as it takes them to release spores. So interesting, huh?

  27. Yum! We have used pizza as a fungi motivator and as a review of the parts of a cell.

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