UCMP Lessons  

What Food Is It?

Author: Sharon Janulaw

Overview: Students close their eyes and taste foods without using the sense of sight to identify the foods. They record what they think the food is that they tasted.

Lesson Concepts:

Grade Span: K–2


Advance Preparation:

— Purchase food.
— Prepare recording sheets.
— Cut food into pieces and put foods out of sight of students.

Time: 40 minutes

Grouping: Whole class and small groups

Teacher Background:

Our senses of taste and smell are related. The tongue can distinguish only four basic tastes: sweet, sour, salty, bitter. Other tastes are a combination of the four basic tastes or a combination of taste and smell. The flavor originates primarily from the food’s smell. Molecules of the food move up the back of the mouth to the “smelling cells” in the nose. Our sense of smell is important in helping us differentiate among the many foods we eat. For example, if you can’t use your sense of smell, your sense of taste may not tell you the difference between an apple and an onion. If you have a cold, food tastes bland and things taste much alike.

Explore this link for additional information on the topics covered in this lesson:

Teaching Tips:

NOTE—Before beginning tasting activities, check students’ health records to determine which, if any, students have food allergies. Do the tasting part of this activity with a group of about 6 at a time. If you work with the whole class, students will have to sit with their eyes closed for too long a time.

Vocabulary: names of any foods with which students are unfamiliar


  1. Ask students if they think they can tell what food they’re eating just by tasting it, that is, without using their sense of sight to see it before they put it in their mouths. Tell them that they are going to be Taste Detectives and try to identify foods put into their mouths without being able to see or touch the foods. Assure them that all the foods are safe to eat.
  2. Work with a small group of students. Tell them that you will ask them to close their eyes and you will put a piece of food in their mouth. They should chew the food, but keep their eyes closed until you give the signal for them to open their eyes. They should then write the name of the food they think they ate on their recording sheet next to number one for the first food, two for the second food, etc. If students can’t write the name of the food, they can whisper the name to you and you will record it for them. Continue until they have tasted all of the foods.
  3. After everyone in the group has recorded their answers, ask them to tell you what they think the first food was. After each student responds, show them what they tasted first. Continue this procedure with the remainder of the foods they tasted. You could wait to do this until each group has had a turn to taste if identifying the foods after each group will reveal the identity of the foods to the groups who haven’t had their turn to taste.
  4. During a whole class discussion, talk about how they could tell what the food was when they couldn’t see it or touch it. What methods did they use to identify the foods? 5. Ask if they prefer being able to see the food that is put into their mouths? Ask them if they think how the food looks matters. Would they eat eggs that are purple or green? Why or why not? You could read the book Green Eggs and Ham and then cook green eggs for them to eat.


In small groups do the same tasting activity, but this time have them close their eyes and hold their noses when they are trying to taste and identify a food. Then discuss how things taste when a person has a stuffy nose. Tell them that the sense of smell is used when we taste food. Talk about the four tastes that we can identify without our sense of smell. Put a piece of pretzel in each student’s mouth while they have their eyes closed and their noses held. Ask them to tell you whether it is sweet, sour, salty or bitter. You can use lemon, candy, dill pickle, sweet pickle, unsweetened chocolate for the different tastes.

Updated October 31, 2003

Home  |   What's new  |   About UCMP  |   History of Life  |   Collections  |   Subway

Copyright symbol