Mushroom Prints

This lesson contributed by Cheryl Saam of the Leslie Science Center in Ann Arbor

Guiding Question

How do mushrooms reproduce?


photo of mushrooms





Each person will need:

  1. 1 fresh mushroom, either store bought or picked
  2. 1 glass, cup or bowl large enough to fit over the mushroom
  3. 1 sheet of plain white paper
  4. Clear acrylic spray if you want to save the experiment design (optional)

Room Preparation

Everyone will need flat surfaces for their mushrooms and papers. This area must remain undisturbed for at least one hour.

Safety Precautions

Some mushrooms are poisonous! If you picked the mushroom outside, do not eat it.

Procedures and Activity


  1. Ask students what they think a mushroom is. Explain that mushrooms are not plants: they don’t have chlorophyll and can’t use the sun for energy.

  2. Go over the parts and life cycle of a mushroom.

  3. This experiment demonstrates the spore liberation phase in the life cycle.


  1. Pass out a mushroom, a piece of white paper, and a cup to each person.

  2. Break off the mushroom stem so that the cap can be laid down fairly flat.

  3. Lay the mushroom gill-side-down on the piece of paper.

  4. Carefully cover the mushroom cap with the open end of the glass or bowl.

  5. Let the mushroom sit for at least an hour, preferably overnight.

  6. GENTLY lift the glass or bowl from the mushroom and VERY GENTLY lift the mushroom cap from the paper. You should see a beautiful radial design.

  7. If you want to save the design, spray the paper with clear acrylic.

Closing - Original Question

Ask again “How does a mushroom reproduce?”


Ask students to share and compare their mushroom prints with each other. Ask questions to show that they know the parts and life cycle of a mushroom.

Extension Ideas

  1. Research how organisms reproduce from both spores and seeds. In what ways are these two processes similar and how are they different?

  2. Research the role that mushrooms and other fungi play in the overall ecosystem.

  3. Check out some of these related web sites:

Careers Related to the Lesson Topic

Prerequisite Vocabulary

Showing no sexual differentiation (no male or female forms)

The green matter in plants. In the presence of sunlight, it converts carbon dioxide and water into carbohydrates that feed the plant

Fungi (singular: fungus)
One of the five kingdoms of life (animals, plants, fungi, protists, and monerans). Fungi were once thought to be plants but they have no chlorophyll and cannot make their own food. Instead, they dissolve and then absorb food.

The thin, leaflike radiating plates on the undersurface of a mushroom

Mycelia (singular: mycelium)
The vegetative part of a fungus made up of threadlike tubes

A plant or organism that lives in or on another plant or organism

An organism that lives on dead or decaying material

A small reproductive body, often consisting of a single cell, produced either asexually or sexually. They are highly resistant to environmental damage and are capable of giving rise to a new adult individual, either immediately or after an interval of dormancy.

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