Authors as Published

Elena Serrano, Associate Professor, Human Nutrition, Foods and Exercise. (

Age X  Children 7-10X Children 11-14 X Mixed AgesVirginia Standards of Learning
English 3.1, 3.2, 3.8, 4.1, 4.2, 5.1, 5.2, 6.1, 6.2, 7.1
Health 3.1, 4.1, 5.1, 5.2
Setting   Classroom    CampX     Either
Location   OutsideX Indoors     Either

Project Skill: Taste testing

Success Indicators: As a result of this activity, children will be able to:

  • identify different tastes
  • label the parts of their tongue associated with different tastes
  • learn the importance of “taste” when eating or drinking something

Life Skills: Decision Making, Teamwork, Collaboration

Preparation Time: Collect the necessary materials.


  • Tongue-tastic (VCE publication 348-859)
  • Sweet station: Container of sugar, baggies for individual taste tests, marshmallows.
  • Salty station: Container of salt, baggies for individual taste tests, chips or pretzels.
  • Sour station: Bottle of water with a little bit of lemon juice, plastic cups for individual taste tests, Q-tips, sour candies.
  • Bitter station: Tonic water, plastic cups for individual taste tests, Q-tips, dark chocolate.


  1. Set up four different taste stations for sweet, salty, sour, and bitter.
  2. Assign students to four different groups. Introduce the class to the four main tastes asking them what foods could be classified into the different tastes. List these on the chalkboard.
  3. Hand out Tongue-tastic.
  4. Give students the following directions:
    a, Pour some of the taste material into an individual receptacle (Dixie cup or baggie).
    b. Dip your finger or a Q-tip into your container.
    c. Now place it in the middle of your tongue. Can you taste it?
    d. Dip it in solution again.
    e. Now place it on the back of your tongue. Can you taste it?
    f. Dip it in solution again.
    g. Now place it on the side of your tongue.
    h. Continue until you find you can taste the item.
    i. Then, do this same activity using the food item representing the taste (marshmallows, potato chips/pretzels, sour candies, or dark chocolate).
    j. Once you have figured out where you can taste it, indicate that taste on the drawing of your tongue. Use different colors for each taste.
    k. Go to the next station.
  5. After they are done, compare responses and go over the discussion questions.


  • Plan plenty of time to set up the stations and organize the supplies.
  • Encourage students not to scream out from different tastes.
  • Ask students to be careful when pouring solutions into their own containers. Clean up any spills.
  • This will not require the entire 30 to 45 minutes. Combine this experience with another one or follow up with a game.


  • Explain what you and your classmates did in this activity.
  • What did you like about it? What did you dislike about it? Why?


  • What did you learn about “taste”? And your tongue?
  • What are the four main tastes?
  • What surprised you about this activity?


  • How often do you use your “taste buds” when you eat or drink something?
  • What different tastes are associated with different food groups of MyPlate?
  • What are other ways to enjoy your food?


  • What will you tell your friends about this activity?


Enjoy your food.
Taste all the flavors in the food.
Use all your senses.


This publication was partially funded by USDA’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).  The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program provides nutrition assistance to people with low incomes. It can help you buy nutritious foods for a better diet. To find out more, contact your local county or city Department of Social Services (phone listed under city/county government).  For help finding a local number, call toll-free: 1-800-552-3431 (M-F 8:15-5:00, except holidays).  By calling your local DSS office, you can get other useful information about services.  
In accordance with Federal law and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) policy, this institution is prohibited from discriminating on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, religious creed, age, disability, or political beliefs.
To file a complaint of discrimination, write USDA, Director, Office of Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Avenue SW, Washington, DC 20250-9410 or call, toll free, (800) 795-3272 (voice) or (202) 720-6382 (TDD). USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer.
This publication was partially funded by the Expanded Food Nutrition Education Program, USDA, CSREES.

Virginia Cooperative Extension materials are available for public use, reprint, or citation without further permission, provided the use includes credit to the author and to Virginia Cooperative Extension, Virginia Tech, and Virginia State University.

Issued in furtherance of Cooperative Extension work, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Virginia State University, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture cooperating. Edwin J. Jones, Director, Virginia Cooperative Extension, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg; M. Ray McKinnie, Administrator, 1890 Extension Program, Virginia State University, Petersburg.

Publication Date

December 14, 2011