We started off our week with a Mushroom hike! A few folks from our local Waldorf group were able to meet us at a nature preserve (so we were just able to look, not forage and take home this time, so as to keep the preserve intact) and have a little picnic and hike. We were worried that since it was so early in the season, we might not find many mushrooms at all! Fortunately, we were able to locate three kinds! We found them mostly in the lower more humid areas of the preserve. We will keep looking out for them all Spring and Summer, but it was nice to see some right before our lesson!
We didn't get to "facty" or "namey" and just enjoyed the hike and hunt for various mushrooms. . . Steiner indicated for Botany and enjoying nature to leave the classroom talk for the classroom. We focused on the experience! ✨
We did, however, plop ourselves down in the middle of the trail to have snacks and read an imaginative Mushroom book! I read this top book Tales of the Mushroom Folk to all the children aged 2-11 and they all really loved it. It really reminds me of Elsa Beskow books, and is a wonderful tribute to that type of book that brings nature out of the materialistic "facty" type books that are so dry and lifeless, and brings the imagination in! I selected this book mostly for my 1st Grader as I am block combining with my 5th Grader to help life flow more. This is another reason we don't follow a certain curriculum! I want to block combine and have my daughters learning side by side! So for this Mushroom lesson, I used Charles Kovacs Botany Block with my 5th Grader, and I elaborated one story page from the following top book. The bottom book, I borrowed from a friend in the group to use myself for drawing inspiration!
On The Child is the Curriculum forum, I am posting a video giving a mini-demonstration on how I drew a guided mushroom drawing for my 5th Grader. We worked step by step and side by side together. I took Steiner's advice from Kingdom of Childhood lectures to approach drawing. . . that is, by not using line and outline. If you look, you will notice most of the beautiful illustrated books for children use outline, so they may automatically practice this on their own. For lessons, though, it is ideal to keep lines with geometry only. There is also a further discussion post about this in the art teacher training section of the forum! Since we weren't painting for this particular lesson, we worked really hard to draw our mushrooms using form, shape, and color. . . and oh the colors! So fantastic. I wanted to choose a drawing for this lesson because of the array of color you can get with colored pencils for various mushrooms. For other plants in this block, we are going to paint.
I began with the hair like threads of the mushroom created by the falling spores, with an underground view. I really wanted her to have the sense that underground things are going on, just as they are from above in the air. For drawing, it is a particular new challenge and skill for a 5th Grader to draw in a way that is opposite of drawing a tree. . . that is, drawing the soil around the white hairs underground while leaving the white space. It is the reverse of what they are used to! But it's a new way of working with drawing or painting. . . working with "relief" in a way. We also worked with soil gradients from light to dark shading.
Next, I draw an assortment of imaginative mushrooms above ground, working with a technique I call "ghosting" (more on that in the video on the forum in the 5th Grade Botany section! We worked one by one with light, dark, and color. We imagined the sun or moon casting light on them from the above right corner.
We added a birch tree and an elm tree, both with mushrooms that tend to grow on trees. . . and it was my daughter's idea to have the scene set at night, in the full moon bright light! 🌝✨ I think that was a great idea! We thought the yellow and blue contrast was so beautiful and magical for the scene. . .
***both my girls have requested that I not share the handwriting writing portion of their lessons, which they like to do separate from their drawings, and I gain permission to share drawings, but this is a language arts block and we are doing quite a bit of cursive writing for 5th and just a few capital letter short words or sentences for 1st Grade for each lesson. I write my own sentences inspired by the stories.***
For my 1st Grader. . . who absorbed the hike and the imaginative story in her being the day before, worked on a drawing about a story of a slug who Munched on Mushrooms on a Mound in the Meadow for letter M!
My 1st Grader was also invited to cook some mushrooms we bought at the store! Since we couldn't forage any, she was still curious and wanted to taste them. I bought portabellas, baby bellas, and shitake for her to try. She helped me wash the dirt off of them (and therefore got to feel their shape and texture), and then practice chopping them. Then she helped me add some herbs and seasoning and stir them in coconut oil. The big bellas we decided to roast in balsamic vinegar and avocado oil. One of our recipes came from this awesome book Foraging with Kids by Adele Nozedar.
While my younger two didn't really care for trying more than one of each mushroom, my son and I devour mushrooms up very quickly!! Lovely with dinner! What a yummy and fun Fungi lesson this week! Thanks for reading 😊 🍄
PS on the forum, there is also a wonderful "foraging with children" thread going on right now with pictures!!