I don't know about you but I love thunder storms! LOVE them! We have had a lot of them lately and with all the rain comes one of my favourite things to catalogue and teach my girls about . . . MUSHROOMS!
When it Rains, it Spores!
It is however very important to remember that if you are taking your children exploring in nature that you have a NO TOUCH rule. When taking the children out I make sure to remind them that mushrooms can be very poisonous and make us sick if we touch or eat them. I believe teaching our children to respect and appreciate nature is key to keeping them safe while they play, learning and explore outdoors.
Gauging a child's maturity is also something to do when teaching about things like wild mushrooms or berries. For example my 8 year old is able to understand that she shouldn't be picking mushrooms or berries without a trusted adults help. So I will teach her things like how to safely collect the mushrooms and how to identify them by observing the cap, gills, stem and spore print. Where as my 5 and 3 year old would not understand the danger in picking wild mushrooms or berries, so instead of talking about which are edible or poisonous, we appreciate the mushroom from a distance and will talk more about how it looks; It has a dome top with dark gills and a white stem and is in a big group; we can then later draw or paint the mushrooms when we get home.
Here are some of the sites I use to help identify plants and mushrooms I find in YEG's ravines and river valleys -
"This booklet contains a list of common cultivated and native plants that are poisonous or suspected of being potentially poisonous to humans. Mushrooms, toadstools and fungi have not been included because they are difficult to identify."
"Although mushrooms are very interesting to look at the microscopic spores found on the gills can contain serious toxins, wash your hands well after handling wild mushrooms. I quote a mycologist, who said the following "Fungal species are to numerous to identify and no one can claim to be an expert". There are several deadly look a like's and some have not even been documented, this is what makes eating wild mushrooms so dangerous and at the same time so mystical. Mushrooms are always fun to observe when considering all the above. If you're lucky enough to find a healthy patch of mushrooms it's truly a magical sight."
"How to Identify Mushrooms
When you’re finished with your mushroom hunt, gather together and unwrap the mushrooms that you’ve found. It’s best to have an experienced collector on hand to help you identify them. But a careful beginner with a couple mushroom field guides can begin to identify mushrooms."