Life Sciences: Mushrooms Lower Primary Education

 

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Introduction

 Discovering how to grow mushrooms at home will be a fun experience for you and your child. Your journey of discovery begins when your GreenBox Family Farm box arrives!

Growing mushrooms at home will encourage your child to appreciate how to be responsible for and take care of growing things. Apart from enjoying the fruits of their labor, the GreenBox will teach your youngster valuable life skills such as patience and perseverance while boosting their self-esteem and stimulating independent thought as they wait for the outcome of their hard work.

The GreenBox Activity Kit contains educational material that allows your child to explore Organisms and the Environment as part of Life Science. What better way to learn how organisms depend on their environment, and how they make their own food and obtain energy to grow and survive?

GreenBox offers parents the opportunity to engage in meaningful activities with their children that allow developing minds to ask questions, conduct investigations, create, analyze and interpret data, use mathematical and computational thinking, construct explanations and design solutions.

And need we mention: they are delicious!

LIFE SCIENCES: MUSHROOMS

LOWER PRIMARY EDUCATION 

CORE AREA: Exploring Organisms and the Environment

The student will demonstrate an understanding of how the structures of fungi help them survive and grow in their environments.

Conceptual Understanding 1:

Fungi have specific structures that help them survive, grow, and produce more fungi. Mushrooms have predictable characteristics at different stages of development.

Performance Indicators: To demonstrate this understanding, students can: 

  1. Obtain and communicate information to construct explanations for how different mushroom structures survive, grow, and produce more mushrooms.
  2. Construct explanations of the stages of development of a mushroom as it grows from a spore using observations and measurements.

 Conceptual Understanding 2:

Mushrooms have basic needs that provide energy in order to grow and be healthy. Each mushroom has a specific environment where it can thrive. There are distinct environments in the world that support different types of mushrooms. These environments can change slowly or quickly. Mushrooms respond to these changes in different ways.

 Performance Indicators: To demonstrate this understanding, students can:

 Conduct structured investigations to answer questions about what fungi need to live and grow (including air, water, sunlight, strata, and space).

  1. Develop and use models to compare how the different characteristics of fungi help them survive in distinct environments.
  2. Analyze and interpret data from observations to describe how changes in the environment cause mushrooms to respond in different ways (such as turning leaves toward the Sun, leaves changing color, leaves wilting, or trees shedding leaves).

 Conceptual Understanding 3:

Like all living things, fungi fits into a Taxonomic Classification. Mushrooms have certain identifying characteristics that determine the taxonomy.

 Performance Indicators: To demonstrate this understanding, students can: 

  1. Use the model of the human being in its Taxonomic Classification to gain better understanding of the Classification.
  2. Gain a basic understanding of the Taxonomic Classification of Fungi. 

 DIRECTIONS TO PARENTS/TEACHERS 

 Best Practices: 

  1. Ask questions
  2. Identify problems
  3. Investigate and collect data
  4. Analyze and interpret data
  5. Apply mathematical and computational thinking
  6. Use evidence to make scientific arguments
  7. Communicate information
  8. Make cross-curricular connections 

  What you will need: 

  • GreenBox FAMILY FARM KIT

 Let's get started!

 HOW TO USE the GreenBox FAMILY FARM KIT:

Read the directions on how to grow the mushrooms in the box

Establish a Routine

     The GreenBox FAMILY FARM KIT can be incorporated seamlessly as a daily activity on a personal level as well as on a relationship level with other family members.

    Routines protect and help children feel safer as they know what to expect. Studies have shown that people who favor an active daytime routine have healthier sleeping cycles and are associated with better mental health. 

    Let the fun begin!

    FAMILY FUN FIRST!

     BECOME A MUSHROOM SCIENTIST!

     Possible Questions: 

    • What do you think a Mushroom scientist does?
    • What are some of the best things about nature?
    • What is your favorite food? Why?
    • What is the craziest thing you’ve ever eaten?
    • If you could grow anything in the yard, what would it be? 

    This activity will promote critical thinking skills. Resist answering these questions. Answer a question with a question:  Example, “What do you think?” “How can we find out?”

     Activity 1

    Using the Guidelines above, brainstorm ideas on how we can keep our mushroom family safe. Explain that there are rules to follow so that the mushrooms will grow well.

    Discuss these guidelines with your child. Encourage child to determine the consequence of what the opposite behavior may cause.

     Examples:

    What would happen if we shake the box?

    Why should we only use water?

      Activity 2

    Brainstorm:    Have your child study the objects below, connecting the objects in relation to human vs. mushroom needs. Answer the following two questions:

    1. “What do I need to grow?”
    2. “What does our mushroom kit need to grow?”

     

      Activity 3

    LET’S RECORD WHAT WE DO!

    Preparing your child for the upcoming process:

    • Discuss what is inside the GreenBox Family Farm kit.
    • Ask the child what he expects will be happening.
    • Discuss how long the process may take.

     JOURNAL

     Lower Primary:

    Have your child design a 10-day Calendar and Growth chart and have them write down their observations.

    Optional: Speech-to-text software (voice-typing) is a fun way to capture spontaneous observations in real-time.

     Activity 4

    LET’S GET SERIOUS ABOUT SCIENCE!!

    Discuss questions about mushrooms, e.g.

    • Does a mushroom grow in the same way as a plant or a vegetable?
    • Do you think mushrooms grow from seeds?
    • Do you think mushrooms may belong to their very own family?

    *Resource to understand the growth process:

     

    Read the Story: Molly and Freddy under Mushroom Stories. 

     

    PARENTS/TEACHERS INFORMATION:

    #1 What are mushrooms?

     Mushrooms are usually classified as vegetables, but technically a mushroom is not a plants but a fungus. Fungi are organisms that cannot make their own food. They play an important role in nutrient cycling in an ecosystem. A study of fungi is known as mycology. Since mushrooms releases the spores to propogate, a mushroom is a reproductive body.

     

    #2 HOW DO MUSHROOMS GROW?

    Mushrooms grow from spores (not seeds). The spores are formed on the gills of the mushrooms by microscopic structures called basidium. The basidium shoot out the spores. These spores are so small that they cannot be seen with the naked eye. Mushroom spores are not male or female, but positive and negative mating types. Both are required in order to reproduce and form hyphae.

     

     

    The spores do not rely on ground, but on substances like coffee grounds for nourishment. A blend of the spores and these nutrient sources is called spawn.

    The hyphae are emitted from below the caps of the mushrooms. They grow and extend to make up the mycelium. Inside the box is the substrate containing mycelium, tiny, white, threadlike bodies.The mycelium grows first and then mushrooms appear. In other words, the box has been pre-prepared for mycelium to grow into mushrooms. It is said to be colonized when the mycelium begins to grow.

    The mycelium is a network of single cells called hyphae. Each cell has a nucleus or cell brain. The cells communicate with each other. When conditions are right, the spawn supports the growth of mushrooms.

    For mushrooms to grow, they feed on recycled coffee grounds. Compounds called enzymes break down the food source.

     #3 How do the mushrooms grow in the GreenBox FAMILY FARM KIT?

    INCUBATION

    Pick a warm, humid area with indirect sunlight. Mushrooms grow well near the kitchen sink. This process takes a few days.

    FRUITING

    A colony is now established by the mycelium (the vegetative part of a fungus). Now it will start fruiting. You can see pins or fruit buds coming out of the holes.

    GROWTH

    The caps will grow larger and the stems longer.

    HARVEST

    The best time to harvest is when the caps turn from convex to concave – turning down to turning up.

    #4 Where do mushrooms fit into living things on earth?

    Living things are classified into species that fall under kingdoms. Mushrooms belong to the Fungi kingdom. Other kingdoms are Animals, Plants, and Bacteria.

    #5 How are living things classified?

    The classification of living things is called Taxonomic Classification.

     Resource to understand Taxonomic Classification - See Enrichment Resource 

     Resource to understand Taxonomic Classification - Link to: See Enrichment Resource 

    #6 What role do mushrooms play in nature’s ecosystem?

    * An ecosystem describes a single habitat where all living things, or organisms, interact with each other and all other different elements that are not alive, such as water, air, light, and minerals.

     * This interaction has been described as the ‘Circle of Life.’ Living things feed upon other things, things die and become food for other organisms.

     * Fungi play a big role in the environment. They decompose and recycle organic matter. That provides food for other organisms living in the ecosystem.

     Let us look at what the Circle of Life for mushrooms could look like.

    1 Spores are released and mycelium start growing through the soil to find food to eat. They produce enzymes which break down plant material and dead trees.

     2 There is another ecosystem of organisms, bacteria, bugs and worms exchanging nutrients underground. They eat mycelium and each other.

     3 In rainy conditions the mycelium weave together and start pinning and forming mushrooms. The mushrooms release spores into the world.

    4 In the meantime, animals move into the  decomposing tree, further breaking it up. In this way decomposition results in rich soil, full of nutrients and living organisms.

     5 The animals carry new seeds of things they ate with them, and when these are dropped into the ground, new plants grow.

       Word Box

    •  Basidium Microscopic club-shaped structures producing spores 
    • Decompose To decay or break down 
    • Ecosystem A biological community of organisms interacting with their physical environment 
    • Enzyme A substance produced by a living organism that breaks down possible food sources in the environment 
    • Fungus A spore-producing organism feeding on organic matter, classified as a  Kingdom in the Taxonomic Classification of living things
    •  Gill  A gill is a rib under the cap of a mushroom where basidium is found, used  to disperse spores
    •  Hypha  Each of the branching cells that grow and make up the mycelium of a fungus
    •  Kingdom The kingdom is the highest taxonomic rank generally used in classifying   organisms 
    • Mushroom The reproducing body of the fungus that releases spores 
    • Mycelium The vegetative part of a fungus consisting of a network of branching, thread-like hyphae 
    • Mycologist  A person who studies fungi
    • Nucleus A cell containing DNA molecules
    • Organism A creature with a life form 
    • Pinning This is the stage where the mushrooms begin to appear from the substrata 
    • Resource An environmental substance required by a living organism for normal  growth, maintenance, and reproduction
    •  Species A group of organisms that can reproduce with one another in nature and  produce fertile offspring
    •  Spores Reproductive cells capable of developing into hyphae by finding matching  spores
    • Substrate The substance in which the mushrooms are growing, in the case of  GreenBox FAMILY FARM KIT, recycled coffee grounds
    • Taxonomic Classification A scientific system that classifies organisms into categories based on their biological characteristics

     

    Click here for:  Wordsearch

       

      SUGGESTED ACTIVITIES WHILE WAITING FOR MUSHROOMS TO GROW

      • Complete the Calendar daily
      • Study the Word Box
      • Complete the Wordsearch
      • Complete the Quiz

        Experiments to determine how different conditions affect the growth of mushrooms?

      Discuss different conditions that could affect the growth of mushrooms. Let child suggest varioius experiments that could be set up. If the experiments are cost-prohibitive, wait until the GreenBox FAMILY FARM KIT has produced two harvests and then use the box for an experiment.

      In any case, let child write up the:

      • aim of the experiment (what is he trying to determine)
      • how experiment would be set up
      • the projected outcome.

      PARENTS/TEACHERS INFORMATION:

      Possible experiments could show how the following affect the growth of mushrooms:

      • no light
      • too much water
      • co air circulation