The Best Way to Discover Fungi with Little Ones

The Best Way to Discover Fungi with Little Ones

The Best Way to Discover Fungi with Little Ones- Are you ready for some fun-guys?!

I would never have imagined how exciting a week dedicated to discovering the world of fungi could be for my toddler, baby, and myself!

Going on a Fungi hunt
Going on a Fungi hunt

Activity Sneak Peak

  • Creating a mushroom log
  • Making spore print art
  • Cooking with mushrooms- Breakfast Omelet
  • DIY fungi puzzle
  • Mushroom hunt!

This past week in the Exploring Nature with Children nature study was Fungi Week, and as you may know, our family has been following this curriculum as a guide to creating our own adventures in learning about nature.

The Best Way to Discover Fungi with Little Ones

If you are new here- Welcome! Be sure to check out my previous post One Full Week of Playful Pumpkin Perfection for pumpkin inspired play and activities.

So, how did we explore mushrooms with a three-year-old and ten-month-old? And more importantly, what did we determine as The Best Way to Discover Fungi with Little Ones?

Wild Fungi
Wild Fungi

Let me tell you what we did for Fungi Week!

Mushrooms on a Log

This is such a simple activity and I have to say, makes for a cute mushroom-inspired display for your home! Right now, it’s the centerpiece on our dining room table.

Mushrooms on a log activity
Mushrooms on a log activity

What you need:

  • A log or piece of driftwood
  • Wine corks (thanks, Nana!)
  • Mini cupcake papers
  • Paint and paint brushes
  • Hot glue gun

We started by gluing the wine corks onto the log. (I did the gluing as we used a hot glue gun). Then glue the cupcake papers onto the tops of the wine corks.

Mushrooms on a log activity
Mushrooms on a log activity

Next, get your painting shirts on and decorate the mushroom tops! Amelia has been liking experimenting with water colour paints, so that’s what we used.

Making Spore Prints

Foragers use spore prints to document mushrooms they have found and help with identification. Making mushroom spore prints is easy and demonstrates how mushrooms release their spores naturally. We used mushrooms from our fridge, but you can also use wild picked mushrooms too.

Making mushroom spore prints
Making mushroom spore prints

What you need:

  • A piece of white paper or cardstock
  • Mushrooms
  • A sharp knife
  • Water
  • Eye dropper or syringe
  • Cardboard box

The first thing I did was cut the stem and bottom bit off of the mushrooms with a knife to expose the gills. Next, Amelia laid the mushrooms down on the white paper and using a syringe, dropped a few drops of water onto the tops of each mushroom.

Once the mushrooms were moistened, Amelia covered the paper and mushrooms with a cardboard box. We left the box on overnight. The next morning, we removed the box and mushrooms to expose the prints left by the thousands of spores that were released by each mushroom! Neat eh?

Mushroom spore print art
Mushroom spore print art

Amelia wanted to decorate the spore prints, so we decided to make a piece of artwork by incorporating them into a picture of flowers!

Cooking with Mushrooms

As you know, some species of mushrooms are edible while others are not. Although we spent a week learning about fungi, I have to say that I’m not a mushroom identifying expert! For this reason, we decided to cook with mushrooms we had in our fridge.

We decided to make a mushroom breakfast omelet!

Amelia helped pick out the ingredients- eggs, mushrooms, spinach, and cheese. She helped by cracking the eggs, breaking the mushrooms into small pieces, and stirring the mixture before it was cooked.

Our omelet made for a quick and tasty lunch!

Tasting the mushroom omelet!
Tasting the mushroom omelet!

DIY Fungi Puzzle

Puzzles are a favourite activity here. We have several word puzzles, but not one that relates to fungi… so we made one!

That’s right! You can make a word puzzle with a few objects that you likely already have around your home.

DIY Fungi Puzzle
DIY Fungi Puzzle

What you need:

  • A piece of cardboard
  • A marker
  • Alphabet letters

Just trace the letters onto the cardboard with your marker to create an instant word puzzle. We’ve been working on recognizing and naming the letters of the alphabet, so this FUNGI puzzle was a hit!

You can either set out the letters needed for the puzzle, or allow your child to search through all of the alphabet letters to find the ones that fit.

DIY Fungi Puzzle
DIY Fungi Puzzle

Okay, but what did we find to be The Best Way to Discover Fungi with Little Ones? After enjoying the activities, crafts and tasty sampling of mushrooms, here is what we found to be

The Best Way to Discover Fungi with Little Ones:

Go on a Fungi Hunt!

That shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise, but I can’t tell you how much fun we had trudging through the woods in search of fungi. Amelia had a blast looking high in the trees and low on the forest floor for mushrooms.

Discovering fungi!
Discovering fungi!

We started our expedition as a casual stroll in search of fungi, but it quickly became an exciting scavenger hunt, and I have to say, Amelia is quite the mushroom hunter! There were many times where she found fungi that I had missed.

Discovering fungi on a fallen tree
Discovering fungi on a fallen tree

Our Fungi hunt opened our eyes to how diverse and prevalent mushrooms are on our own property. Now that we’ve finished Fungi Week, Amelia is still pointing out fungi on our nature walks and it makes me so happy (and proud) to see her showing such an interest in the natural world.

Discovering fungi!
Discovering fungi!

Remember that going on a nature walk doesn’t mean you have to haul your children to the deep woods. Go for a stroll through your neighbourhood park and I’m sure you’ll be able to find mushrooms.

Mushrooms are everywhere and make for a neat scavenger hunt- hidden under logs, up trees, and even in plain sight on the ground… that’s what makes them fun-guys!

I hope you found inspiration with The Best Way to Discover Fungi with Little Ones 

Let’s hear from you!

Have you explored fungi with your children?

Be sure to follow play and pinecones on Instagram and Pinterest for more nature inspired play and activities!

A Toddler-Friendly Pond Study: How to Make a Splash!

A Toddler-Friendly Pond Study: How to Make a Splash! Do you remember doing pond studies in elementary school?

 I do! And it brings back such fond memories. 

A Toddler-Friendly Pond Study: How to Make a Splash!
Puddle jumping

Activity Sneak Peak:

  • Pond exploration
  • DIY pond at home
  • What sinks and what floats? 
  • Lily pad and frog jump activity 
  • Let’s make (and eat) pond mud! 
  • Making natural sailboats 
  • Sailboat send-off activity 

I remember our class trekking out to the local marsh to explore the ponds and learn about the creatures that live there. 

Looking back, I have mad respect for the teachers and parent volunteers who hauled a group of children out to play in the mud!

A Toddler-Friendly Pond Study: How to Make a Splash!
A Toddler-Friendly Pond Study: How to Make a Splash!

This past week our family explored several ponds in the area and did a few pond activities at home with the kids. 

If you’re new to my blog, welcome! I’ve been sharing our family’s journey as we follow the Exploring Nature with Children nature study with our toddler and baby. 

Be sure to check out last week’s post- 10 Colourful Toddler Activities to Fall in Love with Today!

Pond exploration
Pond exploration

Here, I’ll be sharing the activities and experiences we had during our pond study week. 

Let’s dive in! 

A Toddler-Friendly Pond Study: How to Make a Splash! 

Going out to the pond

Throughout the week we visited several local ponds (and one river) for some playful exploration.

Pond exploration
Pond exploration

We noticed some similarities and some differences between the ponds. There we found similar pond life at some and different creatures and plants at others.

Amelia took a liking to the tiny shells we found and we brought a few home with us to add to our DIY pond.

Finding shells at the pond
Finding shells at the pond

But mostly, we just played in the water and got muddy. I just wish I had a Splashy suit like Amelia!

Bringing the pond to us! 

After visiting a couple ponds, we decided to make one at home!

No, we didn’t get an excavator and dig up the earth, but we did create a pond habitat in a bin we had at home.

DIY pond
DIY pond

We talked about what made up the ponds we visited and went from there. Then we filled the bin with water and Amelia added dirt, stones, leaves, rocks, and sticks.

Amelia added the tiny shells we brought home from one of the ponds for a finishing touch!

Adding shells to the pond
Adding shells to the pond

After checking on our little pond each day, we noticed changes as the week progressed. There were more leaves as the days went on and even a few bugs.

Since the warm weather is pretty well behind us, we didn’t have to worry about creating a breeding ground for mosquitoes.

Sinkers and floaters

While we were setting up our pond at home, we were able to discover which materials float and which ones sink.

What sinks and what floats?
What sinks and what floats?

As Amelia was adding items to our pond, we noted that:

  • All of the rocks sunk.
  • Some leaves floated and others sunk.
  • All of the sticks floated.
  • The shells first floated and then sunk once the water made its way inside the openings.

A little lily pad activity 

One of our favourite books here is Little Yoga. The book is a playful introduction to yoga poses for toddlers and each pose is modelled by an animal.

Little Yoga book
Little Yoga book

Inspired by this book, Amelia likes froggy jumping around the house. We found a frog at one of our pond visits, so naturally we were inspired to pretend to be frogs at home.

I cut lily pads out of green cardstock and wrote each letter of Amelia’s name on each lily pad.

Lily pad activity
Lily pad activity

We then arranged the lily pads down our hallway to spell her name and had a blast jumping from lily pad to lily pad.

Even Brooksie partook in the game, but was more of a crawly frog than a real jumper yet.

Lily pad activity
Lily pad activity

Making (and tasting) “Pond Mud” 

Pond mud is delicious!

Have you ever heard those words together in a sentence before?

But really… it is the best. And by pond mud, I mean chocolate avocado pudding!

It’s also super simple and a great treat to make with little helpers- especially if you have a few ripe avocados to use up!

Chocolate avocado pudding
Chocolate avocado pudding

Pond Mud (Chocolate Avocado Pudding)

Serving Size:4
Time:10 mins
Difficulty:Easy

Ingredients

  • 3 ripe avocadoes, pits removed
  • 3 tbs cacao powder
  • 1/2 cup milk (we used homemade coconut milk)
  • 4 tbs maple syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Directions

  1. Mash up all of the ingredients in a bowl and blend with an immersion blender until smooth.
  2. Transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate until chilled.
  3. Enjoy some pond mud!

Don’t forget to lick the spoon!

Pond mud can be refrigerated up to 4 days (but I guarantee it won’t last that long!)

Natural Material Sailboats

We went on a nature walk and collected a few colourful leaves and some bark that had come loose from a fallen tree.

From these items, we were able to make the cutest little sailboats!

Nature-made sailboats
Nature-made sailboats

Using the bark as the base of our boats, I had Amelia stick a wooden toothpick into the centre of each boat.

We then threaded a leaf onto each toothpick to create a sail for each boat.

Making our sailboats
Making our sailboats

Once complete, and after passing the buoyancy test in our kitchen sink, it was time to send them off!

A Sailboat Farewell

We have a river on our road that we like to visit from time to time.

There’s a bridge over the river from which you can look down and observe the water flowing.

The river is fairly slow-moving and seemed like the perfect place to set our sailboats free.

Sailboat send-off

We went down to the river with our little sailboats in tow and Amelia let a couple of them go along the riverbank.

Next, we went onto the bridge and dropped the last two boats from the bridge and watched as they peacefully floated down the current.

Finally we were able to see the boats go along the slower section of the river and then rush down the ripples of the quicker moving area.

Sailboat send-off

Amelia absolutely loved this activity. It’s definitely something we will be doing again!

Our first pond study was a wonderful experience and I look forward to revisiting the ponds again with the kids. I hope you found inspiration with A Toddler-Friendly Pond Study: How to Make a Splash!

We were able to see how the ponds looked during Autumn and noted:

  • Geese gathering together for their Fall migration.
  • Leaves falling and collecting in the ponds.
  • Cattails and milkweed going to seed at the edge of the water.

I can’t wait for us to discover how the ponds look at different times of the year. 

Pond exploration
Pond exploration

Let’s hear from you!

How have you explored pond life with your children? 

Be sure to follow play and pinecones on Instagram and Pinterest for more nature inspired play and activities!