Students explore and describe some food samples. As the class reviews the descriptions, they notice which senses came into play. They begin to distinguish between descriptions that are based on judgments and those based on qualities we can identify through different senses.
Prepare each of these items for each student: one quarter of a breadstick, a potato chip, a small piece of bread with jam. (You might want to substitute produce, such as apples, bananas, or cucumbers for one or more items.) Put the samples on paper napkins or plates. Each student should have a sheet of paper and something to write with.
This activity sets the stage for the four that follow it (see links at foot of page); each engages students in experiencing foods using just one sense. Of course, we don't typically isolate our senses when we eat; they intertwine to create our taste experiences! But these activities give students a chance to explore and understand the roles each sense plays when it encounters a morsel.
1. Tell students you've brought in some foods for them to examine. Ask them to divide their sheets of paper in thirds (one section for each item), examine the three items, and write down words and phrases to describe each one. Give the group a few minutes to tackle the task before letting them know that it's okay to use all their senses.
2. Together, discuss how you might combine the data they gathered. For instance, you could make a chart with student names down the left and names (or pictures) of the three samples across the top. Fill out the chart by asking each student to share the descriptive words he or she used for each sample (e.g., yellow, smells like strawberry, crispy, salty, round, tastes good).
|Student||Sample 1||Sample 2||Sample 3|
|Mara||Crispy, tan, good||greasy, salty||sweet, reddish, cold|
|Webster||hard, tall||round, crumbles||smells like strawberry|
3. As you review the chart, ask students what patterns they notice. If appropriate, ask, Why didn't we all use the same words? Which senses did you use in your investigations? As students name each one, ask them which words or phrases on the chart came from using that sense organ. Mark the chart as follows:
- Put an E next to descriptions that relied on eyes (e.g., yellow, round).
- Put an M next to descriptions that relied on mouths (salty).
- Put an H next to descriptions that relied on hands (greasy).
- Put an N next to descriptions that relied on noses (e.g., smells like strawberry).
- Put an E+ next to descriptions that relied on ears (crispy).
Ask students what the words left behind have in common. Do they fit into any of the body part categories? Explain that those words (e.g., it's good, it's cool, I don't like it) are opinions (judgments) about the food. The others describe actual qualities of the food that you take in through your senses. Explain that in future activities, they'll have a chance to experience foods with each of their senses. (Note: We don't include any activities here related to hearing.)
Go back to your original chart and ask students to stretch their descriptions to paint a more detailed picture for someone who has never seen or tasted the food. For instance, the word yellow might become golden yellow
*Activity inspired by Italy's Saying, Doing, Tasting: Taste Education Journeys in School.
Taste Education Articles and Activities
Cultivating Taste: Beyond the Food Pyramid
Feast Your Eyes
Food: A Touching Experience
Growing a Knowing Nose
Flavor Sleuths: Making Sense of Taste
Savoring Flavors: Local Tastes Compete
Standards Addressed by Taste Education Activities