I borrowed this photograph from our WOLF school teacher Courtney Reece and used it in a class session on photographing nature. It serves as a great example of what can be done with a cell phone and and a little patience. The sharp images of the mushrooms while keeping the background out of focus is a lesson on its own.
A second lesson we stress with the students is to notice the where and what, in this case where was it found and what was it on. This is Marasmius capillaris and it grows on oak leaves matting the forest floor. Michael Kuo points out that it is often mistaken for the better known Marasmius rotul but that species grows on wood rather than leaves. He goes on to say:
"After summer rains in eastern North America's oak-hickory forests, Marasmius capillaris can often be seen fruiting by the thousands, like tiny white flowers blanketing the litter layer. Close inspection of the same leaves during dry spells often reveals that the little mushrooms are still there, shriveled up until they are literally pin-sized, waiting for more rain and the chance to come back to life and distribute spores once again." Michael Kuo
This is a potential science experiment which could excite a student or even an aging naturalist, a chance to bring the mushrooms back to life. Another source says M. capillaris is in the same family as shitake mushrooms "but may or may not be edible." I can't imagine trying to eat something this small but this is not an experiment that anyone should try, ever!