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Here are some additional tips to make your mushroom hunt a success for the whole family:
- Look, don’t touch! Before you head out for your hunt, let kids know that some mushrooms have chemicals that are not safe for humans, so when we find a mushroom, we’ll leave it where it is growing. (Note: Though some mushrooms contain toxins harmful if ingested, touching them is not harmful. Still, to be extra safe, it’s best not to encourage kids to pick wild mushrooms). You can also let kids know that the mushrooms have an important job in making healthy soil and helping plants and animals grow, so we’ll leave them where we found them so they can continue to do their important work.
- Where to look: Mushrooms grow throughout the year but the fall is one of the best times to find them. They are especially abundant after rain. Mushrooms grow almost anywhere including the forest floor, under leaf debris, on banks of a slope, on fallen logs, inside the hollows of standing trees, and along the trunks of trees, both near the ground and high on the trunks. Mushrooms can also have a distinct smell. Once kids have had the chance to discover a few mushrooms using their sense of sight, challenge them to use their noses to sniff out hidden mushrooms.
- Wash hands when done: When your mushroom hunt is finished, help kids wash hands in case a bit of exploring with hands took place.
Make your own mushrooms: If you took photos to document their hunt, take a moment to look through them together and notice the colors and shapes of the different parts of each mushroom. Offer kids art materials to draw their own mushrooms. Kids can also use forest putty and nature treasures to create mushroom shapes. If you have store-bought mushrooms at home, offer kids a few to use as stamps with mud or paint.
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