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Fungi Lesson for Kids: Definition, Facts & Characteristics

Instructor: Dacia Upkins

Dacia has taught all core elementary subjects for 14 years with a Master's degree in Urban Teacher Leadership.

In this lesson, you will learn that fungus isn't as gross as we think. Fungi are all around us and can be very helpful. Some can even be tasty! You'll learn what fungus is and some common examples.

There's a Fungus Among Us

Did you know that you probably eat something that can also grow between your toes? This stuff is called fungus (singular) or fungi (plural), which is a group of living things especially known for decomposing, or breaking down, organic, or once living, material for food.

Fungi are everywhere, and while some can be disgusting, others can taste great or even save your life!

What Makes Fungus So Special?

A mushroom's a plant, right? No, it's a fungus! Don't be fooled by the fact that you find mushrooms alongside the vegetables in the grocery store - they are not a plant or vegetable.

Mushrooms, like other fungi, are different from plants mainly because of the way they get their food. While plants are able to make their own nutrients from sunlight and chemicals, fungi can't do this. Fungi have to feed off of things that used to be alive, including dead animals, rotten fruit, and animal waste.

While the fungi's style of eating may sound gross, they are an important part of the food chain because they break down the nutrients in dead things, which can then be used to make healthy soil for planting vegetables and fruits.

Yummy Fungi

Many people think that fungi are just gross, but the fact is that they find their way into many of the foods we eat. Take pizza, for instance. The dough is made with yeast, a type of fungus that helps the dough to rise. This same kind of yeast is also used in breads, cakes, muffins, and more. Top your pizza off with some mushrooms, another fungus, and you've got yourself a fungus feast!

And if you're crazy about cheese, you're also crazy about mold, a third type of fungus often used to make cheese and found in other milk products.

Fungus is used to make pizza dough. Mushrooms are also a type of fungus.
mushroom pizza

Fix Me, Fungi!

If you got sick with pneumonia or a sore throat, you probably wouldn't want your doctor to give you a shot of fungus. But you might want to rethink that.

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