Activity 1: Build a tree

 

This game is described in ‘How the mushroom got its spots: an explainers guide to fungi’ by Sue Assinder and Gordon Rutter.

 

 Click here to be directed to the relevant worksheet.

The activity could be taken back to school and developed into a drama exercise with the tree eventually becoming old and weak so that a parasite could come in and kill it. The recycler fungi and invertebrates etc. could appear and gradually remove all the parts of the tree releasing all the nutrients that were locked up in the wood and leaves so that in the clearing that has been made by the fall of the great tree, there is plenty of food stuff ready to help new tree seedlings start the cycle all over again .

 

An extension activity:

 

Try taking the ‘Build a Tree’ activity a bit further. Allow a scaled down version (depending on numbers of children available) of the tree to become old, or a limb to be blown off causing a hole in the bark. The parasitic spore finds a way in and gradually the tree will die and fall to the ground. Wood decomposing fungi and insects (keep some children free to take on these roles) can start to break down the parts of the tree and gently remove (literally) the various parts of the now dead tree. Eventually the dead tree has completely rotted away and there is now a clearing in the wood. During the process of decay, carbon and other important ingredients which the seedling trees will need to grow, will have been released from the old tree back into the system by the decomposer fungi. This recycling of nutrients combined with the sunlight that can now shine onto the forest floor will allow the seeds left behind by the tree to germinate. The children could all come into the ‘clearing’ and complete the cycle by becoming a new generation of tree seedlings. This would probably need a narrator and could be embellished with ‘home-made’ fungus ‘coolie’ style hats and any amount of imagination!

Click here for Early Secondary school Activity 2