The five senses are our windows to know the world. You can see all our posts on the five senses here. Continuing with the activities for learning the five senses, here are some activities based on the sense of taste. This is probably the most fun among all the sense organ activities because we can actually eat the activity components.
Why is sense of taste important?
The sense of taste is very important for mainly these three reasons:-
Sense of taste is crucial to digestion. When we taste food, our salivary glands release digestive enzymes and the process of digestion starts even before the food has reached the stomach.
Sense of taste provides information about the food. A small bit is enough to tell us what is tasty, what is spoilt, what is bitter (and possibly poisonous), etc.
Sense of taste is important for nutrition. When we cannot taste food, we do not feel like eating, and that can lead to disturbance in the nutrition of a person, as well as cause diseases.
How do we taste food?
We perceive different flavours (taste) from the things we eat and drink by this very important sense of taste, also known as gustation. Tasting is made possible by taste buds or papillae, which are special receptors on the tongue and mouth. Our tongue has nearly 10,000 taste buds. Each papilla has dozens of taste receptors. The taste receptors send the information through nerves to the brain, which interprets the taste.
Five Types of Taste
Humans have five kinds of taste buds – salty, sweet, sour, bitter, and the newly recognized, umami. Umami describes foods with an inherent savoriness and acidity. You can taste umami in foods like Parmesan cheese, seaweed, miso, tomatoes, mushrooms, fish, chicken. Previously it was believed that certain parts of tongues have taste buds for a specific taste, which is no longer believed to be true.
What about the Taste Buds Map???
Taste Buds on Tongue are ALL OVER!
The different kinds of taste buds are distributed on the tongue all over, and not confined to certain areas of tongue for certain kinds of tastes, as previously believed.
Read more here.
Here are some easy activities to do for exploring our sense of taste.
Tell the child the names of the five types of tastes and mention their names when you eat something from a particular category. Some food items are easily available at home to use as the way of examples of each type of taste: sugar for sweet, salt for salty, coffee or bitter chocolate for bitter, lemon for sour and tomato for umami.
You can use the printable worksheet we have on our Subscriber's Page for this activity. Or you can make it as a do-it-yourself activity by printing out pictures of some food items and printing out the names of the taste. This can be used for a food sorting activity as well.
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"Blind Identification" Game
Keep ready two food items of each of the five types of tastes. Blindfold your child. Put an item on your child's tongue and ask them to identify the taste. This is a fun activity that invariably brings a lot of giggles and laughs.
Dry Tongue Experiment
The moistness of the tongue is crucial to tasting. Explore this by drying the tongue with a clean towel or paper towel, and then put some sugar or salt on the tongue and ask the child if they can taste it. The let the child drink some water to moisten their tongue and the saliva to wet the tongue again, and then repeat the experiment.
Smelling the food is important to tasting it. Smell receptors and taste receptors are both chemical receptors which act together to create the flavor of the food that we enjoy. To show this, do an experiment where the child has to pinch their nose tightly so that they cannot smell the food. Put some familiar and favorite food on the tongue and ask them to guess what it is. It is hard to guess just with the tongue, when we cannot smell the food!
The look of the food also influences our opinion about its taste. There is an interesting experiment with jelly beans or gummy bears that you can do with slightly older kids: https://childhood101.com/science-for-kids-jelly-bean-taste-test/
Taste Mixing Experiment
We often taste a mixture of taste types. Some taste types can be combined to form delicious taste, and some taste combinations don't work well. Explore this concept with a lemonade/nimbu sharbat making session. A glass of nice nimbu sharbat has a balance between the sour lemon juice, the pinch of salt and the spoonful of sugar that go into the water. Make a standard nimbu sharbat, and then pour 2-3 spoonful into 3 different cups. Add more sugar into one, more salt into the second cup and more lemon juice into the third cup. Let the child taste them and ask how it tastes!
I hope you will like doing the sense of taste activities with your child. Don't forget to download the Free Printable. You can share the activities you did with your child on our Facebook group - we would love to hear from you!