Activity 3: Foraying using a key


Foraying for fungi:

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photo © ama

 The purpose of this activity is to allow the children to look for real fungi in their natural habitat and then use a simple key to try and identify them.

The following resources may be useful:

Laminated keys  

A simple key to fungi

Identifying fungi what to look for

fungus name trail

dentist mirrors (optional).

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photo © ama

Depending on what is fruiting at the time, it may be best to split the group into smaller groups of 3/4, have an adult with each, but keep in sight of each other. Use mirrors to see underneath the fungi and help you to answer the questions in the key. If mirrors are not available then it might be necessary to gently pick the fruit body. Make sure that all of the fruit body is collected. Explain that picking a fruit body is more like picking an apple from a tree than a wild flower because the spores in an expanded mushroom are already mature. Fungal toxins cannot be absorbed through the skin and sometimes there are interesting smells or textures to explore. Carefully put the mushroom back – it will continue to release spores and may still be used for food or shelter by another woodland animal.

Remember that other people might want to look at the fungi so try and disturb them as little as possible.

Leaders might like to familiarise themselves with what is fruiting beforehand so that they can be sure that the groups will find something that will key out.


photo © ama

Dentist mirrors.

Using dentist mirrors enables the children to look closely at the fruit bodies

without always having to pick them. They will be able to find much of

the information that they need to use the key in this way. Dentist mirrors can be purchased from most chemists or supermarkets.