It’s that time of year when many of us find ourselves thinking forward. It’s finally time to turn over that new leaf that we have been staring at for the last several years. I am resolved once again to find more opportunities for my students outside the four walls of my classroom. If you share my resolve, a mushroom hunt may very well be just what your science class needs this year.
Mushroom hunting can be very embarrassing for a teacher. After several attempts, your students quickly discover that you never actually find mushrooms; you just hunt for them. I can also assure you that classroom management in the great out of doors is a lot easier if you are actually finding mushrooms! My goal is to give you a sure fire way to have a successful mushroom hunt with your students.
Don’t hunt for some obscure mushroom that has a 5-hour growing window. Also, avoid hunting for any mushroom that is harder to spot than a good Wilson basketball. I suggest “Chicken of the Woods.” It is bright orange and grows in large clusters. You can find it August through September (sometimes even later) in many parts of North America. I normally find it on dead cherry wood or on dead oak stumps. It grows in volume and is super easy to spot. We found this nice cluster last year.
After the mushrooms have been fried in in garlic and butter, I like to salt them just a bit. Even students who don’t like mushrooms will probably enjoy some fried Chicken of the Woods. The mushrooms should both have the texture and taste of a fried chicken tender.
Successful mushroom hunting to you and your class! You might even inspire your students to tear themselves away from the electronic world and take their own walk in the woods. It’s even possible that some Morels could eventually show up on your desk!