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How to Make Mushroom Spore Prints!! (with supermarket mushrooms)

Mushroom Spore Prints at How we Montessori  Mushroom gills

Have you made mushroom spore prints before? It is incredibly easy to do and suitable for children of all ages. For a young child, it can be an activity to make pretty prints. An older child can closely examine the prints to identify the type of mushroom and put the spores under the microscope.

I've seen this done online but I was still surprised on how clear and detailed the prints turned out! Also, I wasn't sure if fresh 'supermarket' mushrooms would work, but they do, perfectly! I've heard that button mushrooms don't drop spores like this. Here we used flat and portabello mushrooms.  

Mushroom Spore Prints at How we Montessori  Mushroom gills

Step One: Trim mushrooms and remove the stems. 

Step Two: Place the caps of the mushrooms face down on card or thick paper (gills facing the paper). We used matte photograph paper, matte card and watercolor paper. 

Step Three: Place bowls over the mushroom caps. We used glass containers. This created a little humidity which I believe is conducive for the mushrooms to release spores. Most importantly the bowls allow the spores to drop from the gills to form patterns without any disturbances. 

Mushroom spore prints at How we Montessori  in glass containers

Step Four: Leave the mushrooms for 12-24 hours. We left ours for almost 24 hours. 

Caspar looking under mushrooms to make spore prints at How we Montessori

Step Five: Remove the bowls and gently lift up the mushroom to reveal the print! My boys loved this, it's like opening a present, you don't know what you are going to get!

Mushroom Spore Prints  finished at How we Montessori

Step Six: Admire your amazing mushroom spore prints! Share your results with friends! 

Spore prints finished at How we Montessori

Notes: Remember the print is made by the spores so it will smudge very easily. You can use a fixative spray to keep the spores in place, similar to what you might use on charcoal pictures, we use the Micador Spray Fixative (for adult use only). 

Only use edible mushrooms, we don't pick mushrooms in the wild as we don't know how to identify them. 

We used black and white card, however, our mushrooms had brown spores and therefore the white card worked best. Some fungi have white spores so look lovely on black card. I'd love to try this with different types of mushrooms! 

Decide from the start how involved you want your children to be in the process. The mushrooms are delicate, if you want perfect prints you may want to try this alone. I allowed my children to trim the mushrooms but they damaged them a little. Some prints smudged, but for me, it was worth it for the hands-on learning experience. 

How we Montessori Nature Study  Mushroom spore prints

My inspiration for this post was the very beautiful Dancey Pants Disco! Further reading at Milkwood Permaculture Blog

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