Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Tastes Like Christmas, Exploring Taste

Cathy Burgess
Bay District Schools


Taste helps us, among other things, to select and enjoy food. In this lesson, students learn about taste buds and the four familiar tastes.


The student identifies safe and unsafe behaviors.

The student understands that illustrations reinforce the information in a text.

The student counts up to 10 or more objects using verbal names and one-to-one correspondence.

The student knows that the five senses (taste, touch, smell, hearing, sight) allow us to take in and respond to information in order to learn about our surroundings.


-Song and poem charts: "Singing the Senses," "Five Senses of Christmas," and Santa Fingerplay
-Chart of poem "Oh…"(See Associated file)
-Diagram of the tongue (see Weblinks or Associated file)
-[Taste] by Ruis, Barrons Juveniles, 1985 (or any other book about the sense of taste)
-1 box of Captain Crunch Christmas cereal (or any sweet cereal)
-Lemons- 3 or 4 should be enough for each student
-Potato chips-1 for each student
-Grapefruit peel-2 should be enough for each student
-1 paper plate for each student
-Scissors (1 for each student)
-Class graph of Four Taste Buds
-Chart paper
-Santa Bear, Santa Bear, Use Your Five Senses Summative Assessment (see Extensions)


1. Gather plates and cereal, potato chips, grapefruit peel, and lemons. (Get a volunteer to send them in) Have them ready to hand out during the lesson.

2. Write "Oh…" poem on chart paper. (See Associated file)

3. Have the book [Taste] out ready to read.

4. Make a class graph on chart paper or on a transparency. See Associated file for an example.

5. Duplicate parent letter for each student.

6. Download tongue diagram, poems, and Christmas Celebration checklist. (See associated file)


This is lesson 6, day 10 of the “Sense”sational Christmas unit. It is a good idea to prepare for the taste test before the lesson. I use parent volunteers to get everything together and handed out so the lesson moves smoothly.

1. Ask: Have you ever thought about why you enjoy eating certain foods? Yes, that’s right, because they taste good! Have you ever thought about why foods taste different? It’s really quite amazing.

*Your tongue and the roof of your mouth are covered with thousands of tiny taste buds.

*When you eat something, the saliva in your mouth begins to break down your food.

*There are receptor cells on your tongue like in your nose that send messages to your brain. Your brain then tells you what flavors you taste. It is up to individuals to like or dislike certain tastes.

2. Read and discuss the book [Taste]. Be sure to reference how the illustrations reinforce the text, then, talk about how taste buds play the most important part in helping students enjoy the many flavors of food. Students’ taste buds recognize four basic kinds of taste: sweet, salty, sour, and bitter.

*Use the diagram of the tongue to show salty/sweet taste buds are located near the front of your tongue; the sour taste buds line the sides of your tongue; and the bitter taste buds are found at the very back of your tongue.

3. Now the students will take a taste test. Pass out paper plates. Have students fold their paper plates in half and half again so that they are divided into four sections.

*Tell them they now have a place for the sweet, salty, sour, and bitter foods. Now pass out a lemon, potato chip, cereal, and grapefruit peel and place each in the different section on the plate. Students are to taste them one at a time when the teacher says:
* First, try out your sweet taste buds. What do you think that would be? (Cereal) How would you describe it?

* Next try your sour taste buds. Taste the lemon. Ask: why did some students make a face when they tasted the lemon?

* Now, taste the potato chip. What taste buds do you think you used for that?

* This is the last one. Taste the grapefruit. Does it taste bitter?

* Review all the different tastes.

4. At this time, ask students which taste of the four was their favorite? Have them draw it on a section in the paper plate and cut it out and place it on the class graph as the teacher calls out:
A. Whose favorite taste was the sweet cereal? Come glue it on the chart.

B. Whose favorite taste was the lemon? Bring it up, and so on.

C. Whose favorite taste was the potato chip?

D. Whose favorite taste was the grapefruit?

Tally each one and write the total in the blank at the bottom. Discuss which one the students liked the most and which one they liked the least.

*Write a sentence together about the graph. Talk about why this might be true.
Tell students since they have the cereal out, it would be a good time for a snack and to practice counting numbers to five (or higher to ten for those who are ready) and finding equivalent numbers with the Christmas cereal.

*Pass out a handful of cereal to each student. Tell them to count out five pieces and eat any pieces OVER five. Just be sure they have five pieces in front of them when the lesson starts. (Observe one-to-one correspondence in students as they count.)

*Tell students there are other ways to show the number five besides just counting out five. Model some examples. (Have students do this with their pieces of cereal after you model it.) 3 pieces of cereal and 2 pieces of cereal are 5 pieces of cereal, 1 piece of cereal and 4 pieces of cereal are 5 pieces, 0 pieces of cereal and 5 pieces equal 5 too!

*What we have just done is finding all the numbers we can that are equivalent to 5 or equal to five. Now practice these together: 2 +3=5, 4+1=5, 5+0=5 and so on.

*Let students do this on their own as you walk around observing and helping those who are having a hard time. In a couple of minutes you will notice the students getting restless, so tell them to show you zero by eating all the cereal.

6. Next ask: What if you could not taste anything? Things like a head cold, medications, smoking, and effects of radiation from cancer treatment can cause you to not have a sense of taste. It is very much like a handicap. Why would this be bad? (I give examples of this problem, for example my father-in-law had all the cancer treatments he could ever have from his neck up and it affected his saliva glands and his taste buds. For about 2 years he could not taste, and because he could not taste he didn’t want to eat. Everything tasted the same. He lost too much weight and was hospitalized and was fed intravenously through his veins.)

7. Ask: Do you think you should take care of your tongue? Yes, how? You can brush your tongue with your toothbrush to keep it clean like your teeth. That would be safe. Sometimes bad odors come from your tongue if it isn’t clean. If you are really, really hungry and you want to eat something that is hot; you should blow on it or wait until it cools down because you can burn your tongue. That is unsafe and can also cause you to lose your sense of taste.

*Your tongue is made up of muscle and skin that is easy to burn and peel just like other parts of your body. Do you think you should stick objects in your mouth other than food? Have you ever bitten your tongue really hard? Both of those are also not safe and can cause you to lose your sense of taste for a short period.

8. Sing and read the fifth verse "Tastes Like Christmas" of "Five Senses of Christmas" song. Sing it altogether now since they have learned all about the 5 senses. Introduce the poem "Oh…"(See Associated file) Read and recite it together until students become familiar with it.

9. Ask if students if there are any new words to add to the Five Senses word bank. Some suggestions may be taste buds, tongue, sour, sweet, salty, and bitter. Add them to the Word Wall.

10. Conclude this lesson by asking: What is the last sense we talked about today? What are the four familiar tastes? What part of the body do we use to taste? What does the sense of taste tell you about the world we live in? How does taste help us select and enjoy food? What would happen without the sense of taste? Why should you take care of your tongue?

Lesson 6, Day 11 Party Optional- (Activity #4 which is the Santa Bear, Santa Bear book should be completed or you may get behind.) I have parent volunteers come in to help on this day

1. Celebrate the senses with your Christmas party. I always have my Christmas party on this day. I know many teachers like to wait until the day students get out for Christmas break, but I have discovered the children are calm, better behaved and not on the “school party high” if they celebrate another day. You can involve all five senses in the party by having a Christmas breakfast where you cook in the room and smell all the wonderful smells as well as taste them. I play Christmas music or we sing songs and poems we have learned in this unit for the parents for the sense of hearing. We look at how beautifully decorated our room is for the sense of sight and we unwrap presents in our Christmas stockings for the sense of touch.

2. See attached file for 5 Senses of Christmas Celebration ideas.

3. After the party is over, ask did we use each of our five senses today? Some positive feedback may sound like: Yes! You are right! We used our sense of taste to taste some delicious food, our sense of smell to smell the bacon, eggs and biscuits, our sense of hearing to hear the Christmas music, our sense of touch to unwrap presents and describe what that feels like, and our sense of sight to see all the beautiful Christmas decorations in our room! Some corrective feedback may sound like: Good, you have part of it. Now think of all five senses and relate it to what we did today.

4. Since you can’t party all day, go ahead pass out the Santa Bear, Santa Bear, Use Your Five Senses book. (Do this activity later in the afternoon and not right after the party for the best results.)

*Read together what you have so far together. The teacher reads aloud and students silently. Be sure to pause at the blanks that the students have written answers to.

*Then turn to page 8 – Listen to the words as I read them. Follow along with your finger and point to the words. Read: “Santa Bear, Santa Bear, what do you_________. What goes in that blank? How could you spell that word?

*Complete the sentence I taste_______________. Think of the words in your head and write the sounds you hear or dictate your words to your teacher.

*Now draw and color a picture of something you taste at Christmas. Please draw something other than a candy cane. Make sure the picture and words you wrote match. Why is there a picture of a tongue on Santa Bear’s sack? (Picture clues help you figure out meaning and words.)

Since this is a Summative Assessment to be graded when the unit ends encourage students to do their best and help them as little as possible. Make sure students are aware this is an individual activity not a group sharing activity.


Day 10
Formatively assess students’ knowledge that the five senses (taste, touch, smell, hearing, sight) allow us to take in and respond to information in order to learn about our surroundings by listening to answers from activity #10. Specifically look for: We talked about the sense of taste today. We use the tongue to taste and the four familiar tastes are salty, sour, sweet, and bitter. The sense of taste helps us learn about the world by selecting foods we like. Also if something tastes bad, your taste buds will tell you before you swallow because it could make you sick. If a person couldn’t taste, he probably would not like to eat. Eating food is what keeps a person strong and healthy.
Formatively assess how students represent equivalent forms of the same number, up to 10 or more, through the use of the cereal activity in #5. Observe how students begin to make numbers equivalent to five by looking for 3+2, 4+1, 1+4, 2+3, 0+5, and 5+0.

Formatively assess how students identify safe and unsafe behaviors of the tongue by the answers given in activity #10. Look for answers like a person can hurt their taste buds or sense of taste by burning the tongue, cutting it, or biting down too hard on it. To keep it safe wait until food cools off and never stick sharp objects in your mouth. Also be sure to brush the tongue when you brush your teeth.

Day 11
Formatively assess students' knowledge that the five senses (taste, touch, smell, hearing, sight) allow us to take in and respond to information in order to learn about our surroundings by listening to answers from activity #3. Specifically look for: We used our sense of taste to taste some delicious foods, our sense of smell to smell the bacon, eggs and biscuits, our sense of hearing to hear the Christmas music, our sense of touch to unwrap presents and describe what that feels like, and our sense of sight to see all the beautiful Christmas decorations in our room!


The Beacon Unit Plan associated with this lesson can be viewed by clicking on the link located at the top of this page or by using the following URL: Once you select the unit’s link, scroll to the bottom of the unit plan page to find the section, “Associated Files.” This section contains links to the Unit Plan Overview, Diagnostic and Summative Assessments, and other associated files, (if any).

Writing center: Write in journals about taste buds and what students experienced during their taste test.

Math Center: Sorting Candles. Provide several different candle sizes. Children can sort by height, color, or width.

Housekeeping Center: add wooden toys, dolls, boxes, gift wrap, blocks of wood, sandpaper, child sized tool set, water in a bucket with paint brush, elf costumes, children's wish lists etc. Have the children pretend to be Santa's elf's sanding, painting, and wrapping children's Christmas gifts.

You may consider buying limes instead of lemons. Limes are less expensive.
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