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Can you think of a fun family event that does not somehow involve food? Most happy gatherings include eating, which is why the sense of taste is an important one. Life would be pretty dull if everything tasted the same or if it had no taste at all.
1. The students will discover that we use our senses to learn about the world around us.
2. The students will learn that together with the tongue, mouth and nose, which send messages to the brain, we are able to taste things.
3. The students will learn that we have taste buds that help us taste different things: sweet, sour, salty, bitter and umami (meaty flavors).
4. The students will learn that the sense of taste helps protect us from eating spoiled or poisonous foods.
- Book: Tasting by Rebecca Rissman or a similar choice.
- White paper plates
- Small pieces of apples and potatoes (both without the skin)
- Samples of miscellaneous foods: sweet, sour, salty and bitter, umami
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Show the students the book you are using and remind them that it is a nonfiction book which means that the information is true. Discuss these facts as you read the book:
- The sense of taste and smell are connected.
- You need your mouth, tongue and nose to send messages to your brain, which detects the taste.
- Your tongue is covered with taste buds. (Pass around a mirror for students to look for their taste buds on their own tongues. Sometimes it helps to drink some milk to see them better.)
- Each area of your tongue helps you detect a specific taste: sweet, sour, bitter, salty and umami (meaty flavor)
Next give each student a blank white paper plate and ask him or her to draw and color foods that they love to taste. While they are working, gather a small group to sit with you. Tell the children that you want to have them discover the importance of the sense of smell when they taste things. Ask them to pinch their noses closed while they taste two things. Give each a piece of apple and a potato. They should have difficulty telling the two apart until they are able to smell the apple.
Finally have a tasting party by putting a sampling of the foods provided. Discuss each and decide in which category they belong: sour, sweet, salty, bitter or umami.
Use the printable worksheet, which has pictures of foods to label with the correct flavors.
- Catfish have the most taste buds of any animal! The taste buds are even on the outside of its body.
- Your sense of smell is much stronger than your sense of taste.
- Some insects have taste organs on their feet.
- Girls usually have more taste buds than boys.
- Taste is usually the weakest of the five senses.
Rissman, Rebecca.Tasting. Heinemann Library, 2010.
Collins, Andrew. See, Hear, Smell, Taste and Touch: Using Your Five Senses. National Geographic, 2006.
Romanek, Trudee. Wow! The Most Interesting Book You’ll Ever Read About the Five Senses. Kids Can Press, Ltd., 2004.
Prochovnic, Dawn. Four Seasons! Five Senses! ABDO Group, 2012.
- Photo by therichbrooks under CC BY 2.0 via Flickr