Taste buds are sensory organs that are found on your tongue and allow you to experience tastes that are sweet, salty, sour, bitter and savoury. How exactly do your taste buds work? Well, stick out your tongue and look in the mirror. See all those bumps? Those are called papillae and most of them contain taste buds. Taste buds have very sensitive microscopic hairs called microvilli. Those tiny hairs send messages to the brain about how something tastes, so you know if it’s sweet, sour, bitter, savoury or salty.
It’s not only our tongues that we use to taste though, we need to give our noses some credit too! Olfactory receptors inside the uppermost part of the nose contain special cells that help you smell and send messages to the brain. Here’s how it works: While you’re chewing, the food releases chemicals that immediately travel up into your nose. These chemicals trigger the olfactory receptors inside the nose. They work together with your taste buds to create the true flavour of that yummy slice of pizza by telling the brain all about it!
The average person has about 10,000 taste buds and they are replaced every 2 weeks or so. But as a person ages, some of those taste cells don’t get replaced. An older person may only have 5,000 working taste buds. That’s why certain foods may taste stronger to children than they do to adults.
- Blind tasting- give your child a variety of foods to taste and ask. How would you describe the taste? Is it sweet? Salty? Bitter? Sour? Savoury? You can put a blindfold on them but a lot of children are uncomfortable with that so they could put their hand over their eyes or simply just close them. If your child is not keen on trying new foods, try varying a food they are familiar with such as popcorn. Different flavours/toppings could be salty, sweet, cinnamon, paprika, parmesan.
- Categorise flavours- write the words sweet, sour, bitter, salty and savoury on five pieces of paper. Ask your child to taste a variety of foods and sort each food into the relevant taste category. Some examples of the various flavour groups are:
Sweet food – sugar, maple syrup, honey, cookies, berries, candy
Salty food – salt, pretzel sticks, crisps, crackers
Sour food – lemon, plain greek yogurt, vinegar, pickles
Bitter food – dark chocolate, olive, kale, broccoli
Savoury food – cheddar cheese, soy sauce, tomato, mushrooms
- Discover how much our nose affects our sense of taste? Ask your child to taste a variety of foods, first while pinching their nose then without and describe the difference in the flavours.
And finally, to bring the learning about all the senses together-
Create a chart using the five senses as headings to describe different foods e.g.
|Taste- how does it taste?||Touch- how does it feel?||Sight- how does it look?||Sound- how does it sound?||Smell- how does it smell?|
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Have a nice weekend,