Explore how food tasting activities support hands-on learning and healthy food choices.
Eating is learned behavior and as such, children need many and varied exposures to food throughout their development, starting early and often is best.
Children may need to see, feel, smell, touch, and/or taste a new food ten to fifteen times before they eat and enjoy the food. Food tasting activities allow children to explore a wide variety of foods, some of which are new to them. When done in a safe and nurturing environment, children are more likely to participate, try new foods on their own, and continue to engage in new food exploration when presented with the opportunity.
Tips for conducting tastings in a way that fosters positive, respectful conversations:
- Use Positive language
- Use words of encouragement like:
- Thank you for helping me with this food tasting, what part of the activity do you want to help me with, what food(s) do you want to try next time?
- It takes time to learn new things, let’s explore new foods and find out what they sound, taste, smell and feel like.
- Model respect for others
- Use words of inclusion like: we are all learning about new foods and how they taste, let’s explore together.
- We all enjoy different foods. Let’s learn about everyone’s food traditions and cultural foods together.
- It is okay if you do not like a food, maybe next time you try it you will like it. Ask that children keep an open mind, positive attitude and provide them with words to use if they do not like a food at this time like, “no thank you, not for me today or maybe next time I will like it”.
- Give individuals a voice by participating in other ways besides tasting foods to reduce pressure.
- Enlist children to help with all parts of the activity, handing out supplies, cleaning up, helping others scoop, pour, mix, mark or tally results, etc.
- Ask how they have enjoyed the food, where they have seen the food, where they think it grows, comes from, etc.
- Model and practice proper hygiene and food safety practices
- Pull back long hair with a band or clip
- Avoid touching hair and face
- Wash hands with warm water and soap for 30 seconds before touching food and supplies
- Wipe down surfaces to clean area clean
- Store leftover food and refrigerate or freeze after activity
- Gather trash after activity and dispose
Food Tasting Ideas
Food Tasting A to Z: Taste various foods from A to Z
- Example: A= Apples, Asparagus, B= Bananas, Broccoli, C= Cheese, Cantaloupe D= Dates, Dragon Fruit
- Children explore new foods through positive food experiences and by using their senses.
- Exposure and familiarity to healthy foods increases the likelihood that children will eat those foods.
- Through stations of different foods (or by food group), children see, taste, touch, smell, and listen to the foods before them.
- Then they reflect and discuss the different foods they tried and what they learned.
Mindfully Tasting: Through a mindful eating activity, children practice slowing down and paying attention.
- Mindful eating allows children to become familiar with the healthy habit of recognizing and responding to hunger and fullness cues.
1. Hold sample food and/or distribute samples to each child.
- (Smell) Close your eyes to smell the food. Deep breath in, deep breath out. Think, what does the food smell like? Does the smell make you feel hungry? Healthy? Do you think of a special time that you had this food?
- (Sight) Open your eyes and pick up the food item. What does it look like? What color is it?
- (Touch) How does it feel? Think about all the adjectives we have learned. Does it feel soft or hard? Heavy or light? What other words could describe how touching the food makes you feel?
- (Taste) Now take 1 little taste. Just a tiny taste with the tip of your tongue. Think about how it feels in your mouth; how it tastes. Think to yourself, does this taste remind you of anything?
- (Sound) Are there any senses we don’t use when tasting food? Ask: How about the crunch of an apple you hear in your head? Sounds are associated with foods, too.
Discuss the activity as a group and give children a chance to share what they learned.