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Mycoliteracy

An experiential teaching tool for teachers in low SES schools Grades 5 - 8

Mycoliteracy


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Preface Myco; Greek origin meaning “of mushroom” or “of fungus” Literacy; Latin origin [literatus] meaning “learned” or “educated” Mycoliteracy; learned in the field of fungus or mushrooms Mycoliteracy is a kit that you can use to teach your students about the natural environment, their impacts on it, and create a safe space for students to spend time outside. Through the life cycle of mycelium (material made of mushroom roots), you can use provided, or develop your own lesson plans to teach CCSS while building a relationship between yourself, your students, and nature. Mycoliteracy gives detailed instructions for growing mycelium in the classroom, using the forms you grow to teach CCSS, and developing a garden with your students using the forms as nutrients for the plants. Mycoliteracy is a year long project that can be incorporated into as many or as few lessons as you want and culminates in a garden that is taken care of by students over the summer.

Title page: Gymnopilus Robust Spore Producer Difficult to identify without DNA testing Mycoliteracy


Photo by: Valeriy Andrushko via Unsplash

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King Bolete Mushroom Other names: Porcini Grow under conifers and deciduous trees. Attractive to insects. Mycoliteracy


Photo from Hobby Farms

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Mycelium in Soil Mycoliteracy


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Contents Introduction Timeline About the booklets

6 8 10

Booklets: Stage 1 - Growing Mycelium Stage 2 - Teaching with Mycelium Stage 3 - Planting Seeds Stage 4 - Planting a Garden Stage 5 - The Student Garden

Mycoliteracy


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Introduction Kids are not connected to nature. They have grown up in cities that are growing larger, with schedules that are getting busier, and are relying more on technology. It was only a few decades ago when kids rode their bikes around the neighborhood, played in the empty lot at the end of the block, or spent the night camping in the backyard. Parents now are worried about kids getting into trouble because there are fewer safe spaces in neighborhoods for kids to spend outside, especially unsupervised. Technology is more accessible and kids are spending more time inside playing video games, on the computer, or on the phone rather than socializing with their peers. This discontent has many effects on the health of children and the environment. Nature Deficit Disorder is a useful term for the effects of the alienation from nature on children: diminished use of the senses, attention difficulties, higher rates of physical and emotional illnesses, a rising rate of myopia, child and adult obesity, and Vitamin D deficiency. Exposure to nature can help kids with ADHD, depression and anxiety, creativity, and can build empathy for each other and the natural environment.

Photo by Julia Raash via Unsplash

“If getting our kids out into nature is a search for perfection, or is one more chore, then the belief in perfection and the chore defeats the joy.� - Author of Last Child in The Woods; Richard Louv

Mycoliteracy


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There is an opportunity in schools to reintroduce kids to nature, develop a safe and educational space in nature, and let them take ownership in nature through ecoliteracy. Ecoliteracy can show students how their engagement in the systems of the world — industry, commerce, agriculture — has an effect on the health of the Earth. A play on the term Ecoliteracy, Mycoliteracy is a way to develop your students’ understanding of the natural world and their place in it through the use of mycelium. Through the lifecycle of Mycliteracy you can teach to Common Core Standards while creating fun projects that help students connect to the world around them. Starting with growing mycelium in our suggested shape (or a shape you can utilize based on your school’s unique needs) throughout the school year in the classroom to developing a student run garden. Mycoliteracy outlines ideas, opportunities, and examples to build ecoliteracy in your students. There are also different opportunities for the community to get more involved in the school.

Mycoliteracy


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First day Firstschool day of school of

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Last day of school

ine

we

eks

(St

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2nd

4th n

nine

ine w

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(Sta eeks

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Last day of school

3rd nine weeks (Stage 3) Spring break Spring

Break

Academic School Year Student Autonomy Teacher involvement Mycelium in the garden Mycelium in the classroom

Mycoliteracy

Christmas breakChristmas

Break


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The Time Line This time line shows the progress of Mycoliteracy through the academic school year, including summer vacation. You and your students will start Mycliteracy within the first week of the year. Starting at the top and moving clockwise, each of the 9 weeks of a school year are represented by the first four sides of the pentagon. The outermost dashed line represents teacher involvement in the Mycoliteracy process, which slowly diminishes as students take more responsibility in the care of a garden. By the fifth side of the pentagon, the students will be fully autonomous over the course of the summer. The blue and pink pentagon represents where Mycoliteracy will live. It will start with teaching opportunities in the classroom in Stages 1 through 3 and portions of stage 4. By the fourth nineweeks, you and your students will plant a garden for which they will take full responsibility. You can expect to spend some time outside with your students, learning about planting, tending, and eventually harvesting a garden. Finally Stage 5, which takes place over the summer, puts the garden in the hands of the students, giving them full ownership of a piece of nature for them to nourish and take care of. Over the summer the students will care for their garden with the hopes of sharing their harvest with the next class at the beginning of the following year. It may seem counter intuitive to give students the responsibility of taking care of the garden. You may find that some students are more interested in putting time in the garden over the summer. There may be a case that the garden is neglected and doesn’t produce anything. This is expected and we consider it a learning opportunity. Through Mycoliteracy you and your students will learn the importance of the natural environment and the consequences of human action on it. Any end result in the garden is beneficial to building nutrients in the soil and knowledge in you and your students. Mycoliteracy is intended to be implemented cyclically over the course of several years. The waste from the garden in the fall becomes the nutrients for the next summer’s garden. Expect to fail. Its fine and the only thing you can do is learn from it.

Mycoliteracy


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At the beginning of each booklet, you will see the portion of the time line that corresponds to that Stage. It will indicate the meaning behind the different colors in the pink and blue pentagon and give expected amounts of time needed for each step. To the right you can see an example of the time line as it will appear at the beginning of Stage 1. The sections at the top and bottom represent the end of the stage before and beginning of the next stage. Dark pink lets you know you and your class will have an activity to perform for the day while light pink is passive mycelium growth. The blue line to the left indicates the course of the school year and any holidays that are important milestones in Mycoliteracy.

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Stage 5

If this is not your first year with Mycoliteracy: Within the first week of school, you and your students will mix the garden waste into the soil to add nutrient to this year’s garden. First day of school Step 1: Inoculate 1 hour

Step 2: Grow mycelium up to 4 weeks

Step 3: Transfer mycelium to molds 1 hour

Step 4: Grow mycelium forms - at least 4 weeks at least 4 weeks

Step 5: Dry the mycelium 1 - 24 hours* Stage 2

Mycoliteracy


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The Booklets Mycoliteracy Introduction Stage 1 - Growing Mycelium Stage 2 - Teaching with Mycelium Stage 3 - Planting Seeds Stage 4 - Planting a Garden Stage 5 - The Student Garden

Photo by Markus Spiske from Unsplash

Each of the 5 Stages are broken up into 5 booklets that give you more detailed information, directions, and some examples of lesson plans that are possible through Mycoliteracy. But don’t feel restricted! Feel free to come up with your own ideas and corresponding lesson plans at any Stage!

Mycoliteracy


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Mycoliteracy


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In each booklet, you will also find a poster. Each poster will reinforce some information that corresponds to that stage in the Mycoliteracy life cycle. If you chose, you can find a place in the classroom for one poster at a time, interchanged every nine weeks. If you have the space, you can hang them all at once. For example, in Stage 1, you and your students will learn the importance of mycelium in the environment. The Parts of a Mushroom poster shown to the right is stored in a pocket in the Stage 1 booklet. If there is a specific action needed to be taken in order to progress the life cycle of Mycoliteracy, there will also be a class set of instruction cards included in the corresponding booklet.

Mycoliteracy


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Mycoliteracy


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Mycoliteracy


Stage 1 Growing Mycelium


Photo by Johnathan Brinkhorst via Unsplash

In Stage 1, you and your students will grow mycelium from mushroom spores. You can decide, based on the amount of time and money available to you, if you want to start from spawn, or buy a “grow it yourself� kit of inoculated substrate. This booklet will take you through the parts of a mushroom, why mycelium is an important part of our environment, and give you specific instructions for growing mycelium forms. At the end of this stage, you will have a class set of mycelium forms in whatever shape you chose, dry and ready to use in Stage 2: Teaching with Mycelium. Agaricus bisporus Other names: Cremini Grows in North America and Europe


Stage 1 time line

Stage 5

If this is not your first year with Mycoliteracy: Within the first week of school, you and your students will mix the garden waste into the soil to add nutrient to this year’s garden. First day of school Step 1: Inoculate 1 hour

Step 2: Grow mycelium up to 4 weeks

Step 3: Transfer mycelium to molds 1 hour

Step 4: Grow mycelium forms - at least 4 weeks at least 4 weeks

Step 5: Dry the mycelium 1 - 24 hours*

Title page: Macrolepiota rachodes

* The drying process will depend on your access to an oven. More details on page 24 & 25

Has “scales” rather than warts that grow as part of the cap.

Photo by Milkovi via Unsplash

Stage 2


Contents What is Mycelium? Goals in Stage 2 Common Core Standards Materials you will need Grow some mycelium! What’s Next? Glossary Calendar

6 10 12 14 16 26 28 29


Other names: fly agaric Grows in boreal regions of the Northern Hemesphere

Photo by WS via Unsplash

Amanita muscaria


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What is mycelium? Simply put, mycelium is the root of fungi, or mushrooms. Like plant roots, mycelium helps mushrooms collect nutrients from the soil where they grow. Unlike plant roots, mycelium is a dense network of tiny hair-like strands that decompose other plants (usually wood) and sometimes insects or animals. It gathers nutrients by secreting enzymes that break down larger molecules into smaller pieces. These smaller pieces can be absorbed back into the mycelium and travel all the way to the mushroom. Some of the strands of mycelium can be as thin as a single cell wide, but when working together, the network can stretch for miles. Because it can be microscopic in some areas, it has the ability to reach into smaller spaces than plant roots. Sometimes, the mycelium will grow alongside the plant roots and help the plant absorb more nutrients, too. When mycelium and plants create this sort of symbiotic relationship, the mycelium can even help the plants “talk” to each other.

If you would like to explore this relationship further, check out Suzanne Simard’s TEDtalk: “How trees talk to each other.” Stage 1: Grow Mycelium


Photo by Luciana Kvapliova via Flikr

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Mycelium Growing in soil Stage 1: Grow Mycelium


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There are thousands of types of fungi. Scientists only know about 1000 different species that create mushrooms. Many of those are poisonous, but some are edible. Mushrooms like shiitake, oyster, button, and portobello are the most common and can be easily found in the grocery store or local farmers market. Edible mushrooms can be a good source of protein, fiber, vitamins B, and D. Many important antibiotic and antifungal medicines are developed with the help of mushrooms. Some species of fungal mycelium can break down inorganic molecules in the soil, which means toxic soils can be cleaned without the use of even more toxic chemicals. Most importantly to Mycoliteracy, mycelial networks build structure and nutrients in the soil. This idea will be explored a lot more in Stage 4 and 5, when you start to plan a garden and learn about the nutrients plants need to produce vegetables. Dead mycelium is just as important as live mycelium. That’s what you’ll be creating in Stage 1. You and your class can learn to grow mycelium into a specific shape, then dry it out and use it in the classroom. Growing a mycelium form happens in two phases. The first is the initial growth phase, where you will introduce spawn to an easily digestible material like cardboard. The spawn will start to grow mycelial networks and gain strength (this is called colonizing). After a few weeks, they will be strong enough to transfer into the molds of whatever shape you intend to use in the classroom through Stages 2 to 4. This growth phase can last anywhere from one week to a month, depending on how densely packed you want the end material. (At least 4 weeks is recommended, to withstand being played with in a classroom for two nine weeks.)The drying process is meant to kill the organism to keep it from fruiting (sprouting mushrooms.) The rest of this booklet is dedicated to outlining the growth process as detailed as possible. You’ll be able to decide what kind of mycelium you want to grow, what shape to grow it in, and for how long based on the needs of your classroom.

Stage 1: Grow Mycelium


Photo via Utopia or Dystopia

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In one case, the underground mycelium network of a specific species of mushroom (Armillaria ostoyae) found in the Blue Mountains in Oregon spans over 2,300 acres. That’s about 3.5 square miles or over 1,700 football fields!

Stage 1: Grow Mycelium


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Goals In Stage 1, you and your students will grow mycelium from spawn or from an inoculated mycelium grow kit into a form that can be used for the remainder of the year. Mycoliteracy outlines the growth of a simple rectangular planter box for each student. Through the introduction of mycelium in the classroom, your students will understand the relationship between organisms and their atmosphere, observe and record the changes in mycelium they see over time, and develop an understanding of volume and the relationship between 2 and 3 dimensional shapes. The introduction to natural processes through the decomposition of substrate by mycelium in its growing phase can be an opportunity to begin a larger conversation about organic and inorganic decomposition.

Photo via Ecovative

We suggest using two nested containers no larger than 6� in any direction. The mycelium grows sandwiched inside the larger one and around the smaller one. The lid of the small one stays on to create the void needed to plant in the box later in Mycoliteracy. But, you can grow mycelium in any plastic, silicone, glass, or metal container, as long as you can ventilate it.

Stage 1: Grow Mycelium


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The following instructions are for a mycelium form in the shape of a planter box. The remaining stages of Mycoliteracy give directions for mycelium grown in this shape. However, if you see an opportunity to grow a unique set of shapes that you can teach with in the next stage, by all means! Another example of a shape to grow is simple geometric forms. You and your students can practice calculating volume during this stage. In Stage 2, you can calculate their surface area based on the two dimensional shapes that make up the three dimensional form. CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.5-8.G.B.4

Stage 1: Grow Mycelium


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Potential CCSS Through each phase of Stage 1 you’ll find opportunities to introduce geometry, ratios, and informational text comprehension. Outlined here are the basic CCSS that exist for a rectangular mycelium form. Outlined are ELA and Math standards for grades 5 through 8. However, Mycoliteracy is adaptable for grade up to 12.

Stage 1: Grow Mycelium


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English & Language Arts

Math

5th Grade: CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.5.3 CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.5.4 CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.5.8 CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.5.10

5th Grade: CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.5.MD.A.1 CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.5.MD.B.2 CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.5.MD.C.3 9 CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.5.MD.C.5

6th Grade: CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.6.3 CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.6.4 CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.6.7 CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.6.3 CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.6.10

6th Grade: CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.6.G.A.1 CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.6.G.A.2 CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.6.G.A.3 CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.6.G.A.4

7th Grade: CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.7.3 CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.7.3 CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.7.10

8th Grade: CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.8.G.C.9

Photo via iStock

8th Grade: CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.8.3 CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.8.3 CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.8.10

7th Grade: CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.7.G.A.1 CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.7.G.A.2 CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.7.G.B.6

Stage 1: Grow Mycelium


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Materials you need Mycelium spawn Cardboard (enough to fill plastic bins) Substrate (enough to fill grow forms) Clear plastic bins (1 shoe box per group) Disposable Gloves (enough for each student) Rubbing Alcohol Large Bowl (one per group) Flour (2 tbsp per group) Water

Photo via 2FunGuys

Plastic grow forms (one per student)

Stage 1: Grow Mycelium


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There are a few options out there for mycelium spawn. You can purchase spawn on line through several organic musrhoom vendors including Fungi Ally, Everything Mushrooms, or Amazon. This spawn will usually come inoculated on small wooden dowels. We suggest finding oyster, shiitaki, or common button mushrooms because they are the most forgiving and easiest to grow. This is a good option for the first year of Mycoliteracy. If you chose to repeat this project year after year, there is an opportunity to grow this year’s mycelium shapes from last year’s mushrooms. This will be explained further later in this booklet. If you want to skip inoculation all together, there are mycelium grow kits available through a company called Ecovative at grow.bio. These will eliminate the need for cardboard, substrate, and clear plastic bins. However, in order to grow enough mycelium for a full classroom, this is a slightly more expensive option. Flour is used as an easy to decompose fiber for young mycelium to digest before they become robust enough to decompose wood. Students with gluten allergies can use gluten free flour. Spent coffee grounds will also work, but tend to hold in moisture, inviting mold.

This pocket contains a “Parts of a Mushroom” poster you can hang up in the classroom to help students remember key terms and illustrate the role of mycelium in the environment.

Stage 1: Grow Mycelium


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Stage 1: Grow Mycelium


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Stage 1: Grow Mycelium


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Notes:

The smaller you tear the cardboard at this step, the easier it will be to transfer your mycelium in the next step.

Inoculate Inoculate means to introduce a cell or culture to a medium. In this case, you and your students will introduce mushroom spores to cardboard. Your spores will start to decompose the cardboard within a few weeks. It is important to note: in this phase, try to be as sterile as possible and wear rubber gloves through the whole process. This method was chosen because it is one of the easiest, cheapest, and most forgiving methods to get spores to colonize. However, mold lives in the same environment as fungi. You are making an ideal place for both to grow, so make sure you sterilize your materials to prevent any contamination.

On the previous page, we mentioned using “this year’s mushrooms for next year’s mycelium.” There is an opportunity, at the end of this Stage to allow one form to fruit mushrooms. If desired, you can continue to let mushrooms grow in the classroom for most of the year. Every time you

Materials needed:

harvest the mushrooms, save the stem butts

Mycelium spores

keeping them in a paper bag in the refrigerator.

Plastic bins (2 shoe box size per group)

Use them next year for this step instead of

Cardboard (enough to fill plastic bins)

buying more spawn!

Disposable Gloves (enough for each student) Rubbing Alcohol Water Large bowl (one per group)

Stage 1: Grow Mycelium

(after the kids stop laughing at “butts”) to by


Steps:

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1. Soak Cardboard Find cardboard without dye or toxic glues. Most cardboard boxes used for shipping in US and Canada are fine. Tear the cardboard into small pieces and soak in warm water in a large bowl for about an hour.

2. Prepare plastic bins Teachers: Use scissors or a drill to poke holes in the bottom of one bin, and nest it into the other. This will prevent excess water from pooling and discourage mold growth. Wipe down the bins and lids with rubbing alcohol and let it evaporate completely.

3. Layer cardboard and spores Take the cardboard out of the water and let it drip dry. Begin with a layer of cardboard in the bottom of the bin. Alternate layers of cardboard and spores or mushroom stem butts. Continue layering cardboard and spores until each bin is full. Try not to pack it too tightly. Mycelium needs air flow to colonize.

4. Let it grow!

Photo via Permafuture Project

Close the lid and keep in a cool place away from direct sunlight. Most mushrooms grow between 65 and 70 degrees, so a closet or corner of the classroom will be ideal. Once a day, open the lid and make sure the spores get some fresh oxygen!

Stage 1: Grow Mycelium


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Let it grow During the next 2 to 4 weeks, your students will see a lot of changes in the state of the cardboard. This is where a transparent plastic bin comes in handy. Every time the students open the bin to allow fresh oxygen in, have them record differences they notice. The way it smells and looks. With a rubber glove on, they can carefully test how it feels, but be careful not to tear the cardboard apart just yet. At the back of this booklet is a calendar you can make copies of for your students to record their observations. Maybe have groups keep their bins in different parts of the room. Have them compare the effects of this variable and discuss why they think it is making the difference it is. For example, a bin left near a window will show more condensation within the walls and on the lid. This could lead to faster growing mycelium or the appearance of mold, whereas a bin in a dark corner of the classroom may take longer to grow, but is less likely to show signs of mold.

Stage 1: Grow Mycelium


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At the end of this 2 - 4 week period, its a good idea to find a substrate you want to use. Based on the chart below, decide which substrate will work for your form. We suggest using sawdust because it will fit into fine details and create a more dense and consistent final form. Sawdust can sometimes be found for free at a local wood shop or with a discount for teachers at a home improvement store. The chart below shows different substrate possibilities and the suggested amount of time to let mycelium grow on it and decompose. If you get a growing substrate from somewhere other than an online mycelium growing specialist, you’ll need to sanitize it. This is as simple as boiling in in a pot of water for an hour. It is important that you raise the temperature of the substrate over 200 degrees Fahrenheit. This will kill off competing molds and bacteria.

Possible Substrates Spawn growth

Photo from Ultra Kulture

Substrate

Form growth

Material quality

Best shape

Sawdust

1 - 2 weeks

2 - 4 weeks

Dense, heavy

semi-detailed

Hemp

7 - 10 days

2 - 4 weeks

Dense, light

large geometric

Kenaf

7 - 10 days

2 - 4 weeks

Foam-like

large geometric

Flax

7 - 10 days

2 - 4 weeks

Dense, light

small detailed

Wood chips

2 - 4 weeks

4 - 6 weeks

Dense, sturdy

large load bearing

Coffee grounds

7 - 10 days

7 - 10 days

Light, crumbly

very small, detailed

Oats

1 - 2 weeks

1 - 2 weeks

Light, airy

medium semi-detailed

Stage 1: Grow Mycelium


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Transfer After 2 to 4 weeks, you and your students should notice white mycelium taking over the cardboard. At this point, each student can mix their inoculated cardboard with the growing substrate. In this step it is more important to keep a sterile environment. Now that you are growing your final forms, you don’t want to attract mold which can be harmful to students with asthma or allergies. Make sure students wear their rubber gloves and do their best not to contaminate the grow forms, substrate, or mycelium.

Notes:

Materials needed: Disposable Gloves (enough for each student) Rubbing Alcohol

If you are using your own substrate, remember to have it sanitized by this step. By keeping

Flour (4 tbsp per group)

each element used as clean as possible,

Water

you’ll have a better chance of growing robust

Large bowl (one per group)

mycelium forms without contamination from

Substrate (enough to fill grow forms)

other bacteria and molds.

Plastic grow forms (one per student)

Stage 1: Grow Mycelium


Steps:

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1. Break up cardboard Have each group break up the mycelium covered cardboard into a large bowl that has been sanitized with alcohol. Some of the white mycelium will disappear, but don’t worry! Remember, mycelium can be as small as a single cell in thickness. Just because you can’t see it, doesn’t mean its not there.

2. Prepare grow forms Again, wipe down the plastic forms with rubbing alcohol and let it evaporate. Poke holes in the lid of the forms to allow for proper ventilation.

3. Mix cardboard with substrate Once all the cardboard is broken up in the bowl, mix in enough substrate to fill all each mold and 4tbsp of flour per bowl. If the mixture seems dry, add water. (The mixture should be about the consistency of wet sand.)

4. Fill mold with mixture

Photo from Ecovative

Have each student pack the mycelium, cardboard, and substrate mixture into their form. If you’re using the mold suggested on page 9, students will pack the mixture between the two nested plastic tubs. Keep smaller one empty, with the lid on, then put the lid on the larger one and store in a cool place away from direct sunlight.

Stage 1: Grow Mycelium


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Let it grow, again

Photo from The Bellingham Herald

This is another good opportunity to let the students observe the changes in the sate of the substrate. Keep using the calendars to make notes of changes from day to day. Have the students observe the different smell and growing white mycelium over the substrate. Ask if they notice any difference in the mycelium growing on the cardboard verses the substrate you chose.

Stage 1: Grow Mycelium


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While you might start to see mycelium growing as early as one week, we suggest you let it grow for at least 4. The longer the mycelium grows on the substrate the more resilient it will be to a classroom of students using it every day. If you chose to expedite the process, remove the mycelium from the forms early, and move on to the next step. You’re result with be a lighter foam like consistency, similar to papier-mâché. This is also the opportunity to let some of the mycelium grow long enough to begin developing fruiting bodies, aka mushrooms. If you chose to keep one mycelium form growing, these mushrooms can become the mycelium spawn for the next year’s forms, should you chose to continue with Mycoliteracy.

Pleurotus ostreatus Other name: Oyster Growing in sawdust Stage 1: Grow Mycelium


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Dry

Notes:

At the end of the second growth phase, you should have some solid white, densely packed mycelium shapes. They should be spongy, heavy, and have a slick skin.

Some of your students’ mycelium might

When you’re ready, you and your students can take the mycelium out of the forms. To prevent them from fruiting mushrooms, the mycelium needs to be killed. This happens by slowly drying it at a low temperature.

have already fruited. Thats fine! Harvest the mushrooms as they mature. Maybe have the students dissect the mushroom and identify all the parts. If you have the resources, cook them and share with your students!

A good way to check if the mycelium is completely dry is by weight. Drying the mycelium means slowly removing the moisture the mycelium needs to decompose the substrate. When you remove the moisture, the mycelium

Materials needed:

can no longer grow. If you have the equipment,

Access to an oven (optional)

and after drying it out. The dry weight should be

Warm sunny area of classroom Kitchen scale (optional)

Stage 1: Grow Mycelium

have your students weigh their shapes before roughly 1/3 the weight of it wet.


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Steps: 1. Remove shape from form Have each group take their shapes out of the forms. They’ll notice that they seem heavy for their size, because they are still full of moisture.

2. Dry forms If you have access to the school oven, dry the forms on a wire rack at the lowest temperature possible. Don’t over crowd the oven, airflow around the whole shape is important. Keep the shapes in the oven until dry. Depending on the size and density this could be 45 minutes to a couple hours.

Photo from Ecovative

If you don’t have access to the oven, find a warm sunny place in the classroom or hallway. Maybe an atrium or vestibule. Put the shapes on a rack or screen, again to allow for airflow all the way around. This process will take longer to dry the mycelium, and my not completely kill the mycelium. It could take up to a full day to dry the shapes completely.

Stage 1: Grow Mycelium


Photo from TreeHugger

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Stage 1: Grow Mycelium


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What’s Next? Once your mycelium shapes are dry, they will be inert. They can live in your classroom for as long as you want. With Mycoliteracy, we suggest they become the nutrients for plants in a garden later in the school year. The mycelium is an organic material that will decompose, but not unless it is introduced to a compost bin or broken up into the soil. Use your mycelium in the classroom for Stage 2. In Stage 3 you can begin to talk to your students about planning a garden and plant seeds in their mycelium planter boxes to grow seedlings. By Stage 4, the mycelium will begin to decompose around the seedlings. Around spring break, you and your students can begin preparing a garden that they will be in charge of over the summer.

Clathrus ruber Other name: Latticed Stinkhorn Grows in grass and mulch. Odorous. Stage 1: Grow Mycelium


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Glossary Cap

Rhizosphere

the top saucer-shaped part of a mushroom. the nutrient rich top layer of soil that is filled with microorganisms working together to decompose organic material. Colonize to establish a colony of mycelium on a fibrous substrate

Ring

Gills tiny segments on the underside of the cap of a mushroom; where the spores are held

a ring of tissue left attached to the Stem of a mushroom when the Veil connecting the Cap and Stem ruptures as the young fruit body develops.

Inert

Spawn

lacking the power to move; lacking lacking a usual or anticipated chemical or biological action

a substance that has been inoculated with mycelium Spores

Inoculate to introduce (something, such as a microorganism) into a suitable situation for growth Mycelium the vegetative part of a mushroom; made up tiny hairs that decompose material for nutrients Pinhead slightly more developed mushroom than primordia Primordium the earliest stage of mushroom development

Stage 1: Grow Mycelium

microscopic spheres roughly comparable to seeds of plants Stalk the Stem of a mushroom at the top of which the Cap is attached Stem Butt where the mushroom is attached to mycelium Substrate the base on which an organism lives Warts part of a mushroom; formed on cap by mycelium during mushroom growth


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Observations Observe the changes in your mycelium. Take note of any difference in the way it looks, feels, or even smells. But be careful when touching newly grown mycelium! Write the date and anything you notice in the calendar below. If you have anything extra to add or questions to ask, use the space provided to write or draw your observations.

Monday

Date:

Tuesday

Date:

Wednesday

Date:

Thursday

Date:

Friday

Date:

Stage 1: Grow Mycelium


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Stage 1: Grow Mycelium


Stage 1 Growing Mycelium


You now have a dry, inert, teaching tool made of mycelium. Whether you chose to make the planter box or not, you can use that mycelium shape to teach hands on lessons in the classroom.

Photo by Loic Le Guilly

In this Stage, we’ll talk about the cycles of Earth that will be important for your students to understand by the time you plant a garden.

Mycena leaiana Grows on deciduous logs Has antibiotic properties


Stage 2 time line

Stage 1

Teach with mycelium 9 weeks

First day of school

Title page: Mycena arcangeliana Other name: angel’s bonnet Found throughout Europe Not Edible

Photo by Milkovi via Unsplash

Stage 3


Contents Goals in Stage 2 The Water Cycle The Nitrogen Cycle Photosynthesis What’s Next?

7 10 12 14 17


Photo by Ido Miran via Unsplash


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“It is imperative for students to cultivate a society that takes into account future generations and other forms of life.�

-The Center for Ecoliteracy

Stage 1: Grow Mycelium


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Goals At the end of this Stage, you and your students will have an understanding of natural processes that affect the environment. Your students will learn the importance of a healthy ecosystem for the growth of their plants and the global environment. As you move through Mycoliteracy, the cycles taught in this Stage will become tangible as you and your students start planning a garden and determining what to plant. Through a hands on connection to natural cycles, you and your students will see the importance of your role as humans in the environment and the effects of your decisions on the health of living systems. The pocket includes a poster which visually maps out the three systems outlined in this Stage.

In this section, we introduce the role of live mycelium in the atmosphere and the part it plays in Earth’s natural cycles. If, in stage 1, you determined a mycelium shape that would be used to teach a specific Math or ELA standard, use it in this stage. We gave an example of growing geometric shapes in Stage 1. If you decided to do something like this, utilize those shapes to teach your student the two dimensional planes that make them up. For example, six rectangles create a rectangular prism. Have you students trace each face of their mycelium on a piece of paper. Grades 6-8 can look at calculating the surface area of these planes. Stage 1: Grow Mycelium


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Stage 1: Grow Mycelium


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Stage 1: Grow Mycelium


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Condensation

Accumulation

Evaporation

Photo by Stefan Kunze via Unsplash

Surface Runoff

The Water Cycle Evaporation Heat from the Sun causes water on Earth (in oceans, lakes etc) to evaporate (turn from liquid into gas) and rise into the sky. This water vapor collects in the sky in the form of clouds. Condensation As water vapor in the clouds cools down it becomes water again, this process is called condensation. Stage 1: Grow Mycelium


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Precipitation

Mycelium creates a web in the soil that holds the particles together, preventing erosion. Relationships between mycelium and plant roots creates aerated soil that

Precipitation Water falls from the sky in the form of rain, snow, hail, or sleet, this process is called precipitation.

acts like a sponge, and allows water to permeate the surface soil, allowing plants to access water before it runs off.

Runoff Precipitation is absorbed into the soil and used by plants. Excess water is stored in underground water tables, or runs off land to accumulate in a body of water. Accumulation Oceans and lakes collect water that has fallen. Water evaporates into the sky again and the cycle continues. Stage 1: Grow Mycelium


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Nitrogen Cycle Nitrogen is converted into usable nitrates: Plants use nitrogen to create the chlorophyll used in photosynthesis. Most of the air in the atmosphere is nitrogen and is just as crucial to you as it is your plants. However, nitrogen in the air and in the soil is unusable by plants until it is turned into nitrites. Nitrogen in the soil is converted into usable nitrates by bacteria that lives in the rhizosphere. Some plant roots are the perfect environment for nitrogen fixing bacteria and can be used to build the amount of nitrogen in soil for other plants. Nitrogen in the air is converted into nitrates by lightning, then carried from the atmosphere into the soil by precipitation like rain and snow. Plants absorb nitrates through their roots and use them to build proteins and grow. Animals (including humans) eat the plants and absorb the nitrates Nitrogen returns to the soil as ammonia Animal droppings and dead bodies of animals are broken down by bacteria and mycelium in the soil

Stage 1: Grow Mycelium

Nitrogen in the atmosphere Nitrogen in the soil


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Atmospheric Nitrogen

Nitrogen Fixation

Nitrogen fixing bacteria Decomposing organic matter

Photo by Jesse Gardner via Unsplash

Nitrates

Stage 1: Grow Mycelium


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Light Energy

Carbon Dioxide

Oxygen

Water & Minerals from the soil

Stage 1: Grow Mycelium


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Photosynthesis Carbon dioxide from the air passes through small pores (holes) in the leaves. Water is absorbed by the roots and passes through vessels in the stem on its way to the leaves. Sunlight is absorbed by a green chemical in the leaves called chlorophyll. Chlorophyll uses sunlight as energy to split water molecules into hydrogen and oxygen. Clean oxygen is released into the atmosphere for us to breathe. The remaining molecules, hydrogen and carbon dioxide, are used to make glucose, which acts as food for the plant.

Photo by D Jameson Rage via Unsplash

As your and your students plan a garden, pay attention to areas that might receive shade during the day. Some plants you decide to grow may be delicate and need a break from the sun. Other plants will require full sun in order to perform photosynthesis to gain enough food to grow. Just like your growing students, your plants need adequate sun, nutrients, and water to grow!

Mycelium in the soil forms symbiotic relationships with the plants to help them absorb water and minerals more efficiently.

Stage 1: Grow Mycelium


Photo by Julia Raasch via Unsplash

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Stage 1: Grow Mycelium


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What’s next? In the next phase, you and your students will start growing some seeds in your mycelium shapes and plan a garden! As your and your students plan your garden, pay attention to areas that might receive shade during the day. Some plants you decide to grow may be delicate and need a break from the sun. Other plants will require full sun in order to perform photosynthesis to gain enough food to grow. Just like your growing students, your plants need adequate sun, nutrients, and water to grow! In the next section we’ll talk about the health of your soil and some steps you can take to make sure you’re planting your seedlings in a healthy rhizosphere. Keep the nitrogen cycle in mind and think about planting some plants that are nitrogen fixers.

Stage 1: Grow Mycelium


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Stage 1: Grow Mycelium


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Stage 1: Grow Mycelium


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Stage 1: Grow Mycelium


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Stage 3 Planting Seeds

Stage 3: Planting Seeds


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Photo by Francesco Gallarotti via Unsplash

In Stage 2, you utilized those shapes to teach lessons in the classroom. Now, it’s time to start planning a garden. Mycelium, even when dead, holds some nutrients from the substrate it broke down. When you plant in the mycelium, it begins to decompose and release those nutrients for plants to absorb. Using your mycelium shapes as planters for seedlings in the classroom will help your students grow robust plants that they can then plant in a garden in Stage 4. Students will benefit from spending time taking care of a portion of the natural world, plan a garden based on what they want to harvest at the end of the summer, and watch their mycelium shapes begin to decompose. Stage 3: Planting Seeds


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Stage 3 time line

Stage 2

Step 1: Plan a garden 3 weeks

Step 2: Plant seeds 1 week

Step 3: Grow seedlings 5 weeks

Spring Break

Photo by Markus Spiske via Unsplash

Stage 4

Stage 3: Planting Seeds


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Contents What is Ecoliteracy? Goals in Stage 3 Common Core Standards Materials you will need Planning a Garden Planting Seeds What’s Next?

Stage 3: Planting Seeds

6 10 12 14 16 18 20


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Armillaria mellea Other names: Honey Fungus Parasitic fungi that lives on trees Stage 3: Planting Seeds


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Ecoliteracy Spending time outside is beneficial for you and your students. When budget cuts and pressure to achieve AYP cut in on recess time, you can utilize a school garden to get kids outside and still teach important CCSS. The term “Ecoliteracy” was developed by the Center for Ecoliteracy. It means exactly what it sounds like; -literacy meaning a competence in a specific area and eco- making that specific area ecology. Ecoliteracy is an idea that education can cultivate the knowledge, empathy and actions required for environmentally and socially responsible lifestyles. Introducing children to ecoliteracy develops these characteristics in them at an early age. By familiarizing children with the natural world, its limited resources, natural processes and life cycles, they have a more holistic understanding of their actions and the effects of their choices on the environment and the people around them. Ecoliteracy is a way to combat Nature Deficit Disorder while creating a new generation that is more responsible in production, consumption, and the way they treat each other. The best way to get kids to learn about nature is to get them outside. Creating a safe space for your students to spend time outside, especially in a low SES neighborhood, is vital for their development, mental and emotional health, and can even improve their test scores.

Youngsters are card-carrying “biophiliacs” who have an inherent love of life. They are intuitive, curios naturalists and sponges for knowledge. - Author of Rewilding our Hearts; Marc Bekoff

Stage 3: Planting Seeds


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Getting outside for an hour will give your students’ directed attention a rest. When your students work in the garden, they use a different part of their brain. After sitting in a classroom all day, working through a math problem, focusing on reading comprehension, or developing their writing skills, your student’s directed attention is fatigued, resulting in diminished executive functioning and self-regulation. With a 7.8% diagnosis rate of ADHD in 2018, chances are you have at least one student in class with ADHD (or a comparable behavioral or attention disorder) the symptoms of which are exacerbated by a lack of exposure to nature. Easing off your students’ directed attention by spending time outside can help students’ brains rest and allow their minds to wander. When working in a garden, specifically, hands on repetitive tasks can create a sense of ‘flow’ or being ‘in the zone.’ Tasks like pulling weeds, filling seed trays, or pruning puts the mind at ease, allowing it to relax and even being problem solving. Students can also see the consequences of their actions in the garden. If they accidentally step on a plant while weeding or watering, the next day, that plant could have a wilted leaf. This is a physical representation of their actions that can build self awareness and empathy.

Photo by Tim Mossholder via Unsplash

Spending time outside helps students develop self-discipline, affect their ability to adapt to changing environments, and improve optimism. Its clear to see how beneficial these results can be on students in low SES schools. Students that grow up in poverty have different brain morphology due to high levels of cortisol after extended and sustained exposure to stresses from their environment. The prefrontal cortex and hippocampus are the most affected; those areas of the brain that are in charge of behavior, empathy, executive functioning, and memory and focus. Spending time outside, even simply sitting in a green space, can relieve this fatigue because students employ involuntary attention. They can focus on whatever catches their eye and piques their interest, allowing their mind to wander. By the time you move back into the classroom, you’ll find that your students are able to focus better on that math problem or the book they were reading.

If you want to learn more about integrating Ecoliteracy into your classroom, check out the book written by the Center for Ecoliteracy, Eco Literate: How Teachers are Cultivating Emotional, Social, and Environmental Intelligences.

Stage 3: Planting Seeds


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Get your kids used to spending time outside and take advantage of their’ natural curiosity. Introduce an activity in which the students simply sit and listen for 10 minutes, draw for 10 minutes, and wonder for 10 minutes (of course, these times are adjustable based on your schedule). Have them keep a notebook of the sounds they hear, the things they smell, and anything they see that they find interesting. Encourage them to draw something they can see from where they are sitting; the tree across the playground or the veins in a leaf under their knees. Have them write down questions that may come to mind about why those plants look the way they do. “Does the fuzz on a leaf have a function?” Or use this time as an opportunity for your students to create the setting for an epic tale. Have students work in groups to create characters, a narrative, and the setting based on where they were sitting. CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.5, 6, 7, & 8.3 Stage 3: Planting Seeds


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Utilizing the garden for specific tasks that can also fit into CCSS is a great way to get kids outside learning about the natural environment. In the garden, there is an opportunity for kids to observe, play, imagine, and create. When students have access to natural elements — sticks, leaves, rocks, a creek — they assign those things new roles. A stick becomes a paintbrush and leaves a pallet. By spending time in a safe outdoor space, your students can build creative thinking skills that they can use later when faced with a problem on a test, or in the real world. We understand that not all schools are surrounded by open natural areas, have access to a natural park, or are in the middle of an urban area. In these cases, a small garden on the school grounds is even more vital as the only access to nature your students may have.

Photo by Chu Tai via Unsplash

Many low SES neighborhoods don’t have access to healthy food options. Childhood obesity is continuously on the rise and industrialized food systems keep people disconnected from where their food comes from. Giving students a chance to choose what plants they want to grow makes them responsible for a portion of the natural world. It also makes a direct connection in their mind to the source of their food and the resources that go into growing it. Some students may be so disconnected from healthy food they might not know the vegetables, greens, or herbs they have the opportunity to grow. Be open and help them explore food options, especially foods that will grow well in your climate.

Stage 3: Planting Seeds


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Goals In this Stage, you and your students will plan a garden and begin growing seedlings. With the poster provided, you can illustrate what plants you want to grow. Students can research how far apart, how deep, and what conditions are best for each plant they want to grow. By starting the seeds inside and using the mycelium bin as a planter box, your seedlings will have a better chance of growing in the garden. Stage 3 outlines the materials needed to plant seeds in your students’ mycelium forms, provides the materials needed to plan a garden, and prepares you and your students to plant seedlings in the garden by Stage 4. Planning a garden will show students how they can get involved in the maintenance of a portion of the natural world and by taking care of it, build empathy for it. By deciding what plants they want to grow, they can have a stronger connection the food they might produce over the summer. Introducing students to the source of their food can have lasting effects on their diets.

Photo by Annie Spratt via Unsplash

Not all plants chosen to grow in the garden need to be vegetables. You can create a learning opportunity for your students to understand their local ecosystem. Let your students research native plants to your area. For instance, many native species to New Mexico will require much less water because they have adapted to growing in the windy plains, whereas native species to Georgia have adapted to the nutrient poor sand that makes up the soil. If a student is particularly interested in a native species and it is easily attainable, encourage them to attempt to grow some in your garden. Maybe they decide to have a wildflower section of the garden where they can pick flowers to give as gifts to their families, other teachers, or each other. You could also use this opportunity to talk about things like resource conservation as native species are adapted to tolerate the ecosystem without human intervention. The native plants will most likely grow without a lot of extra water, soil remediation, or attention from your students. If you are an inexperienced gardener, this may be a good place to start, as you learn more about Mycoliteracy and expereince growing plants as well.

Stage 3: Planting Seeds


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Stage 3: Planting Seeds


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Potential CCSS Through Stage 3 you and your students will rely heavily on research. Understanding the conditions most condusive to growing each type of plant is necessicary for cultivating a healthy garden. Outlined here are the basic CCSS that can be utilized while planning a garden and determining which plants to plant and where best to put them. Outlined are ELA and Math standards for grades 5 through 8. However, Mycoliteracy is adaptable for grade up to 12.

Stage 3: Planting Seeds


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English & Language Arts 5th Grade: CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.5.7 CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.5.10 CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.5.6 CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.5.7 CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.5.8 CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.5.8 6th Grade: CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.6.7 CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.6.10 CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.6.6 CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.6.7 CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.6.8 CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.6.8 7th Grade: CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.7.7 CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.7.10 CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.7.6 CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.7.7 CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.7.8 CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.7.8

5th Grade: CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.5.OA.B.3 CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.5.NF.A.2 CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.5.NF.B.3 CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.5.NF.B.5 CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.5.MD.C.3 CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.5.MD.C.5 CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.5.G.A.1 CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.5.G.A.2 6th Grade: CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.6.RP.A.1 CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.6.RP.A.3 CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.6.NS.A.1 CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.6.NS.C.6 CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.6.NS.C.8 CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.6.EE.A.2 CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.6.G.A.3 CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.6.SP.B.4 7th Grade: CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.7.NS.A.1 CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.7.EE.B.3 CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.7.G.A.1 CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.7.G.A.2 8th Grade: CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.8.F.B.4 CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.8.F.B.5

Photo via iStock

8th Grade: CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.8.7 CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.8.10 CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.8.6 CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.8.7 CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.8.8 CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.8.8

Math

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Materials you will need Provided in this kit is a poster for your students to illustrate with the plants they want to grow. Use the provided card stock for the students to draw the plants and cut them out. Pin the plants on the poster to show where they will eventually be planted. It will be up to you to purchase the seeds and soil to plant in the mycelium shapes. We suggest finding a local gardener or garden store with healthy nutrient rich soil

Photo by Elijah Hail via Unsplash

If you find healthy soil, will most likely have some mycelium in it! Remember, mycelium works with microorganisms in the top layers of soil, called the rhizosphere, to create soil packed with the nutrients plants need to grow.

Stage 3: Planting Seeds


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This pocket holds the poster you and your students can use to plan your garden. Hang it up on the bulletin board for the students to plot their plant drawings on the x and y axes based on the information they find for best planting methods.

Stage 3: Planting Seeds


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Stage 3: Planting Seeds


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Stage 3: Planting Seeds


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Planning a garden Have your students determine what they might want to grow. You can create restrictions on the types of plants based on your knowledge, resources, or time. As mentioned earlier, you can create an all native plant garden that will be a little easier for first time gardeners. If you hope to have some vegetables to harvest in the fall, have your students find those that are most resilient; carrots, tomatoes, and most peppers are pretty easy to grow. Have your students determine how deep and how far apart the seedlings will need to be planted in order to find the number of seed they need to plant in the mycelium shapes. Use the poster provided to indicate where in the garden the plants will thrive. Utilize the x and y coordinates to help your students practice using a coordinate plane. If you have an area of the garden that will receive shade from the school building or surrounding trees, plant seedlings that don’t require full sun. You and your students may decide to forgo the traditional garden rows and create a fun pattern or spell a word. Thats great! Plants don’t grow in rows in nature, so feel free to mix it up and have some fun! You might enjoy bringing a local gardener into the classroom to have a discussion with your class. They can learn some of the challenges they might face trying to garden in their local ecosystem from a first hand account.

Look at “companion planting” to determine the best plants to grow near each other based on the nutrients they absorb from the soil. For example, planting basil next to many different vegetables, especially tomatoes and lettuce, can improve the flavor and growth. This is based on the nutrients it takes and those it excretes in the soil around is roots. If you live in a climate prone to mosquitoes, basil is a good mosquito repellent, which may make working in the garden more enjoyable for many of your students. Some delicate leafy greens grow best in light shade. Lettuce will benefit from growing near tall flowering plants that can provide the bit of shade it needs in the hottest parts of the day. Sprawling flowers are beneficial under taller vegetables because they help hold moisture in the ground as a living ground cover, reducing your need for mulch. The flowers will attract pollinators like wasps and bees that are beneficial for bushy crops,

Sources like Vegetable Gardening Life have guides to companion planting and easy to read charts that outline the most common companion plants to many vegetables. Because companion planting is largely understood by trial and error, contacting a local gardener would be the best option to understand the relationships between plants in your local ecology.

Stage 3: Planting Seeds

Photo by Jens Johnson via Unsplash

like potatoes, to produce their vegetables.


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Stage 3: Planting Seeds


Photo by Mehmet Kursat via Unsplash

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Stage 3: Planting Seeds


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Planting seeds Find the seeds for the plants your students decided to grow in their garden. Determine a good day to spend an hour outside toward the end of the day. That way, if the students get some soil on their clothes or spill on the ground, they’re already outside and about to go home anyway. Fill the void in the mycelium shape with soil and plant the seeds as directed on the packet or as determined by your students’ research. This research will also dictate where you store the mycelium shapes as the seeds begin to sprout. You can use a windowsill, a vestibule, or atrium for plants that need partial sunlight. If there is a good place on the playground or near the front door for plants that need more direct sunlight, keep those plants there. It is important to remember to water your plants in this early phase of their life. Just like the first growth phase of the mycelium, these seedlings will do best in the garden if they start off strong. You can utilize the chore of watering as a break for a student whose directed attention fatigues quickly. Give them a chance to prove your trust in them by performing an important task on their own. This will get them out of the classroom for a few minutes to check on the plants and water the seedlings, resting their directed attention so they can come back more focused.

If you decide to keep Mycoliteracy going for several years, you can start a small stockpile of seed that you can use year after year. If your students are successful in their garden, you can even harvest seeds from the plants they grow.

Stage 3: Planting Seeds


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What’s Next?

Photo by Markus Spiske via Unsplash

Let your seedlings grow for several weeks. You might decide that 9 weeks is too long and that some of your seedlings are ready to plant in the garden before spring break. If that is the case, skip ahead to Stage 4! In that stage we’ll talk about planting your seed in a garden and the importance of mycelium in the soil. You can begin to discuss the care that goes into a garden and make a plan for the summer.

Stage 3: Planting Seeds


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Stage 3: Planting Seeds


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Stage 3: Planting Seeds


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Stage 4 Planting a Garden

Stage 4: Planting a Garden


Photo by Maarten van den Heuvel via Unsplash

Photo by Markus Spiske via Unsplash

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Stage 4: Planting a Garden

It’s the last nine weeks of school! The weather is warming up and your students are getting restless in the classroom. You should have some seedlings in slowly decomposing mycelium shapes by now. This is the perfect opportunity to take advantage of the question, “Can we have class outside?” In this Stage, you and your students are going to plant a garden. Your students will learn about organic and inorganic decomposition, get hands on experience with Earth’s cycles, and spend some quality time outside.


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Stage 4 time line

Stage 3

Preparing your garden 2 weeks

Plant seedlings in garden 1 - 4 weeks

Step 3: Grow seedlings Remainder of the school year

Last day of School Stage 5

Stage 4: Planting a Garden


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Contents

Photo by Boudewijn Huysmans via Unsplash

Let’s talk about plastic Goals in Stage 4 Common Core Standards Materials you will need Planting a garden Improving your soil There is no “fail” in “garden” What’s next?

Stage 4: Planting a Garden

6 10 12 14 16 18 20 22


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Stage 4: Planting a Garden


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Since the 1950s, we have produced over 8.3 billion tons of plastic. All of that plastic is still sitting somewhere on Earth.

Stage 4: Planting a Garden


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Let’s talk about Plastic Your students are able to see some physical changes in the mycelium their seeds are planted in. It will begin to break down along the inside edge, maybe even show signs of decomposition on the outside. If this is the case, you can store the shape with its seedling inside the container it was grown in until you are ready to plant your garden. This is a good opportunity to talk to your students about the difference between the way their mycelium shapes decompose and the way other objects made of synthetic materials decompose.

Photo via Wyndsale Blog

Since the 1950s, we have produced over 8.3 billion tons of plastic. The production of plastic has and will continue to grow as technology makes it easier and foreign production makes it cheaper. Different studies project future plastic production to exceed 25,000 million metric tons by 2050. Plastic is versatile, malleable, and long lasting. It is used in almost every industry from the medical industry to automobiles. Plastics are made by a complex process that starts with crude oil and combines many other substances to make each diverse type of plastic. Acquiring the raw materials used to make plastic, crude oil and natural gas, often leaves the land where they were taken from completely toxic and unusable. Animals habitats are wiped away when this happens, leaving them endangered. The extraction of raw materials uses clean drinking water that is then mixed with toxins that are impossible to separate again. Manufacturing plants that make different plastic products release deadly carbon dioxide into the atmosphere which is the leading greenhouse gas.

PET (polyethylene) is the most common type of plastic produced. For every ounce of PET produced, about one ounce of CO2 is emitted. Yikes. Stage 4: Planting a Garden


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The experts say that the best first step is to make sure plastic products are recyclable and that people recycle them. That puts a lot of reliance on cities to maintain adequate recycling facilities and for you and your community to be educated in what types of plastics are recyclable. There are recycling programs in many states, but few are equipped to function at the rate expected of them. Sometimes recycling plants will reject material if it isn’t sorted correctly or if they have no one to sell it to once it has been processed. Most plastic products are used for less than 10 years. Plastic usually lasts the longest as building materials or in industrial production. So more plastic is going to be produced which means more is going to be thrown away. That means most plastic is thrown out and heads to the landfill. Of course, our waste doesn’t always make it to the landfill. 8 million metric tons of plastic is added to the ocean every year. Those studying these ocean plastic patches have found toys from as far back at the 1960s! By 2050, there is predicted to be more plastic in the ocean than fish. Not all of the garbage in the ocean patches is plastic, but because it is so integrated into every industry and is manufactured to withstand weather conditions, it lasts the longest and carries other materials with it. The problem is not only that there is a lot of waste in the ocean, but the effects it has on marine life. Fish and birds mistake the waste for food, get caught in nets, or have sharp pieces lodged in their bodies. The chemicals that are put into plastics during production leach out and change the quality of the water which affects the life cycles of the life in the ocean. Smaller organisms that eat microplastics (beads from your shower gel or the hairs of a toothbrush), are eaten by larger organisms and so on up the food chain. Eventually that plastic that was eaten by the fish accumulates in every fish that eats the previous one, until it reaches our tables. The toxins from waste floating in the ocean can cause cancer or disrupt the production of hormones.

One of the largest patches of waste is in the pacific ocean and is about 270,000 square miles. Remember the largest living organism on earth; the mycelium from the species Armillaria ostoyae? It was about 2,300 acres or 3.5 square miles. That means over 77,000 of the largest living organism on earth can fit onto a mass of garbage in the pacific ocean! This patch of waste floating around in the ocean, called the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is roughly the size of Texas. Stage 4: Planting a Garden


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Think about the materials that went into the production of your mycelium shapes. The mycelium grew from the spores of mushrooms on your substrate. The mycelium and substrate created a composite that you are using as pots for seedlings. While you may have had to order your spawn from one of the suggested retailers online, the the carbon emissions from shipping the spawn to you is negligible compared to that of plastic productuction. Not only that, but at the end of its life, the mycelium shape becomes food for the plants you are growing! There are not toxins, no habitat loss, no harmful chemicals leaching into waterways. If plastic production is expected to rise, so will the effects of production on the environment. We talked in the previous Stage about the disconnect of our society from nature. The overconsumption culture, fast pace lifestyles, and sprawling cities makes that disconnect worse, especially for children. Mycoliteracy can help you connect your students to a tiny piece of nature that they can look back on with pride. Empathy toward the natural world and a connection to each other through it can create a generation of citizens who are more responsible consumers and stand up for their peers.

By 2050, there will be more waste in the ocean than fish.

Stage 4: Planting a Garden


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Goals In Stage 5 you and your students will take the plan you made on the poster in Stage 4 and make it a reality! Planting a garden will be a way to get your kids working with their hands and experiencing the local ecology.

Photo by Steffi Pereira via Unsplash

The seedlings you have taken such good care of will be robust enough to be transferred into the ground outside. Because the mycelium shapes are natural, nutrient rich, and biodegradable you don’t even have to take the seedlings out of their pots. Through observations, conversations, and some work in the garden, your students will see the decomposition of the mycelium and the growth of the plants.

Stage 4: Planting a Garden


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Stage 4: Planting a Garden


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Potential CCSS Through Stage 3 you and your students will rely heavily on research. Understanding the conditions most conducive to growing each type of plant is necessary for cultivating a healthy garden. Outlined here are the basic CCSS that can be utilized while planning a garden and determining which plants to plant and where best to put them. Outlined are ELA and Math standards for grades 5 through 8. However, Mycoliteracy is adaptable for grade up to 12. Stage 4: Planting a Garden


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English & Language Arts 5th Grade: CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.5.7 CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.5.10 CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.5.6 CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.5.7 CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.5.8 CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.5.8 6th Grade: CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.6.7 CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.6.10 CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.6.6 CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.6.7 CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.6.8 CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.6.8 7th Grade: CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.7.7 CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.7.10 CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.7.6 CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.7.7 CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.7.8 CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.7.8

5th Grade: CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.5.OA.B.3 CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.5.NF.A.2 CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.5.NF.B.3 CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.5.NF.B.5 CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.5.MD.C.3 CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.5.MD.C.5 CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.5.G.A.1 CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.5.G.A.2 6th Grade: CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.6.RP.A.1 CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.6.RP.A.3 CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.6.NS.A.1 CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.6.NS.C.6 CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.6.NS.C.8 CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.6.EE.A.2 CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.6.G.A.3 CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.6.SP.B.4 7th Grade: CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.7.NS.A.1 CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.7.EE.B.3 CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.7.G.A.1 CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.7.G.A.2 8th Grade: CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.8.F.B.4 CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.8.F.B.5

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8th Grade: CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.8.7 CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.8.10 CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.8.6 CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.8.7 CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.8.8 CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.8.8

Math

Stage 4: Planting a Garden


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Materials you need The only thing required in this Stage are your mycelium planters holding the seedlings. If you find that you need to supplement your soil to add nutrients, the next section will explain an easy way to do this. You can provide your students with gardening tools like trowels and shovels, but this is optional; usually hands do just as good of a job digging in the dirt. We suggest a fun and easy soil test later in this Stage. If you decide to test your soil, you will only need a single pint sized mason jar. The test indicates the type of soil you have and the content of organic matter in your rhizopshere. Based on the type of soil you have, we make suggestions for different ways to make it healthier for your plants. Again, this is completely optional.

Getting dirty can actually make you happier. Early Photo by Kyle Ellefson via Unsplash

studies show that there is a bacteria present in the soil that acts similarly to an antidepressant or anti-anxiety medication. When injected into lab mice, the bacteria, Mycobacterium vaccae, was shown to activate a series of serotonin-releasing hormones in the brain, specifically the prefrontal cortex and hippocampus. People have contact to the bacteria at low levels when they work in the soil.

Stage 4: Planting a Garden


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Stage 4: Planting a Garden


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Stage 4: Planting a Garden


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Stage 4: Planting a Garden


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“Time in nature is not leisure time; it's an essential investment in our childern’s health (and also, by the way, in our own).” - Author of Last Child in The Woods; Richard Louv

Because you are planting your seedlings inside the mycelium boxes, which are made up of a wood substrate, try not to add too many other materials that are high in carbon (wood chips, straw, and leaves.) The organisms in your rhizosphere will use a lot of nitrogen to decompose these materials which take it away from the plants you are trying to grow. Remember what we learned about the importance of nitrogen in living things from Stage 2.

Stage 4: Planting a Garden


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Planting a garden A lot of people are daunted by the thought of gardening but it’s actually a very relaxing and rewarding experience. If you were able to have a conversation with a local gardener, this would be a good time to bring them back into the classroom to give any more pointers or to help prepare the ground for your seedlings.

Photo by Kenan Kitchen via Unsplash

Remember when we talked about the rhizosphere? This is an essential layer of your garden. Any decomposing organic matter is full of vitamins, minerals, bacteria, protozoa and other microorganisms that help hold moisture and let air and water move through the soil. The best thing you can do for your plants is to make the rhizosphere a place where these microorganisms want to live. The easiest way to do that is to add some compost to the top 6 to 8 inches of soil. Mix the compost into your soil and give it plenty of water. Try not to pack your soil down; the microorganisms and your plant roots need light aerated soil to move and grow through. If you find your soil has a lot of rocks in it, take an afternoon to dig through and pull them out. Keep an eye out for fossils or arrowheads! Once your soil is rich and healthy, plant your seedlings. Keep your plan from Stage 4 in mind so you can ensure that full sun plants aren’t planted in the shady areas of the garden or to keep your companion plants together. You don’t have to get too specific about distances between rows and plants. There’s no need for a tape measure. Break up the mycelium shapes a bit to ensure the roots can grow through them. They may not break down completely over the summer, so they will continue to contribute to the health of your soil for several seasons. As your plants grow, teach your students the importance of proper care. Try to keep weeds out of the garden to ensure the plants you intended to grow are getting the nutrients they need. Keep your students open to accepting bugs in the garden, especially bees and butterflies. These insects are vital to pollinating your plants so they can grow vegetables. Water when the sun is not at its hottest point in the day. Because a school day is roughly 8 to 4, we suggest watering early in the morning, unless you have the ability to water later in the evening. If you planted vining plants or plants that grow best with a little support (peas, beans, melons, and sometime tomatoes) encourage your students to design trellis for them to climb.

Stage 4: Planting a Garden


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Improving your soil Soils can have high levels of sand, clay, and silt. All of which will affect the plants you are going to grow. You and your students can conduct a soil density test to determine the type of soil you have and follow the chart to the right to decide how to create a healthier rhizosphere. To test what type of soil you have, fill a mason jar about â…“ full of your topsoil then fill the rest of the jar with water. Screw on the lid and shake the jar until all the clumps of soil are broken up and fully mixed with the water. Leave the jar on a window sill and let the particles in the soil settle. Have your students check the jar after about 15 minutes, after a few hours, and again the next day. 15 minutes: sand should be settling at the bottom of the jar. Mark the level of sand on the side of the jar. 3 hours: The finer silt particles will settle onto the sand. The layers will be slightly different colors. Indicate the level of silt on the side of the jar. Overnight: The lightest of them all, the clay sits on top of the silt. Mark the level of clay on the side of the jar.

Photo by Paul Mocan from Unsplast

There may be another layer on top of the clay that is made up of organic matter. There may also be some organic matter floating on the top of the water. This is a good thing! If the water is murky and full of floating organic matter, you have a pretty healthy rhizosphere already!

Stage 4: Planting a Garden


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Sandy Soil If the level you marked for the sand is the greatest, you have sandy soil. This means that you have more large particles in the soil that let water drain quickly and create large air pockets. Sometimes that means nutrients will drain with the water and your soil can dry out, leaving it crumbly. All you need to do is add 3 or 4 inches of finished compost or rotted manure to the soil. After you’ve planted your seedlings, mulch around them with wood chips, bark, or hay. These will help retain moisture and protect the soil from getting too hot. Adding a couple inches of organic matter to your soil each year will help in the long run.

Clay Soil If the level of clay was the greatest in your jar, you have clay soil. When clay is wet, it binds together and retains water. It can leave your garden waterlogged when wet, then dry out into a hard surface that isn’t very comfortable to your microorganisms or plant roots. To improve your clay soil, work in 2 or 3 inches of organic matter. For the following years, add an inch of organic matter to the soil every fall. Both will help break up the clay and improve drainage. Make sure you don’t step in the growing area because it will compact the clay into impermeable layers in your rhizosphere.

Silt Soil If the layer of silt is greatest in your jar, you have silty soil. Silt is tiny pieces of rock, with creates a dense and compact soil with poor drainage. However, silty soil is the most fertile of the three. To improve your silty soil, add an inch of organic matter in the top few inches of the soil. Like clay soil, try not to compact the garden by walking on it. Raised beds would be beneficial with silty soil, but are not necessary.

Stage 4: Planting a Garden


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There’s no “fail” in “garden.” Sometimes gardens work. Sometimes they don’t and that’s okay. As you and your students learn more about gardening and what works in your local ecology, you will gain experience and tricks to cultivate a thriving garden. What is important is that you and your students are spending quality time outside and learning from nature. As you go through the final Stage that takes place at school, develop an action plan for your students over the summer. If you are able to meet with the students once or twice a week over the summer, plan a day and time for them to expect to find you there. If not, encourage them to each spend some time in the garden tending to their plants. You may find that a few students are more interested than others. If this is the case, encourage them to participate in gardening together. It is important to let the students have autonomy in the garden. Getting children outside and participating in natural systems is beneficial to their mental and physical health in many ways. Even more beneficial for their behavior, imagination, and social skills is play outside without adult or physical interventions. When children are able to play uninhibited by rules, purpose, or goals they participate in story building, constructing social hierarchies, and creative problem solving. This is the difference between a child running with her friends in a field pretending to be a pack of wild dogs, and a child participating in an organized soccer game. Both are beneficial for her physical health, but use different parts of the brain and exercise different skills. This garden acts as a safe place for your students to play. It is self organized and self maintained. Giving them the autonomy to decide how they will take care of it builds a relationship of trust between you and them. It may be difficult in the first year, but as Mycoliteracy takes hold in your school, the idea will spread and cultivate a culture of students who are excited to get to your class and those who are willing to continue to help in the activities after they’ve left your class. There is no “failure” in gardening. If all of your plants die, they become nutrients for the soil for next year. Depending on the types of plants you decided to grow, they could even become the substrate for your mycelium shapes next year. As you incorporate Mycoliteracy into the school, more students and teachers will get involved. You can encourage your colleagues to utilize the garden space with their students and invite your students to teach others what they are doing. Because you are providing your students with a safe space to spend time learning about nature in nature, you have succeeded. Stage 4: Planting a Garden


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“Living in harmony with our natural environment is key to our health as individuals and as a species. We are a reflection of the environment that has given us birth. - Author of Mycelium Running; Paul Stamets

Stage 4: Planting a Garden


Photo by Steve Johnson via Unsplash

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Stage 4: Planting a Garden


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What’s Next? Put together a plan with your students for the summer. Let them decide when they will spend time in the garden. Assign a time when you might be available to meet them at the garden once a week or so. Let the students decide when they plan to take care of the garden and use the Stage 5 booklet to organize their time. You can’t monitor the schedule as closely over the summer as you do during the school year, however, writing down a commitment will hold them more accountable for their actions.

Stage 4: Planting a Garden


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Stage 4: Planting a Garden


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Stage 4: Planting a Garden


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Stage 4: Planting a Garden


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Stage 5 The Student Garden

Stage 4: Planting a Garden


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Stage 4: Planting a Garden


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In Stage 5, you and your classmates will take care of a garden. Your teacher helped you set up a schedule for everyone to spend some time in the garden weeding, watering, and pruning. It’s now up to you to make sure your plants grow and get the nutrients they need to produce some vegetables. You now have your own space to play outside. You are in charge and get to decide whatever the space is going to be. Use it as a meeting place for you and your friends. Create a time capsule and bury something fun for the next class to dig up when they plant in the garden. It’s up to you to work together and take care of the plants. Use the log your teacher made to keep track of who watered the plants last, who pulled up the weeds around your plants, and whose turn it is to add some mulch. When you and your friends take care of these plants, they’ll start to flower and grow some vegetables!

Stage 4: Planting a Garden


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Stage 4: Planting a Garden

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