Exploring Nature with your 5 Senses (Part 3 Taste)

Here we are again in nature. We have explored using our eyes (parts 1) and ears (part 2). Today we will focus on out sense of taste. Fully experiencing nature with our bodies helps us to become more in tune, more away, more engaged. What we read about and watch on screens suddenly becomes so much more real. Children will remember these experiences far more than memorizing facts. It also helps them to become good stewards of our earth, because they now have that personal connection. They want to care for the earth that they have come to love.

Note of Caution: Be careful when foraging or tasting items you have picked from nature. Be totally sure you know what it is. If you are the slightest bit unsure then don't eat it!

1. Eat a rainbow! Have fun exploring the produce section of the grocery store or farmers market. Try to pick a variety of colours. Turn all those fruits and veggies into a salad, or arrange as a rainbow on your plate.

2. Grow your own food or join a community garden. Choose vegetables or fruit to grow. Starting from either from seed or seedlings, kids will become far more interested in tasting food that they had a hand in preparing and growing. Let them have a say in what you grow. A simple container in the yard (we actually use a recycling bin) can work well. You could also get into more elaborate projects. My older son built a mini green house for a science project in the fall. He grow plants throughout our cold Canadian winter. We have also been part of a community garden for many years. We have been blessed by all the relationships we have formed. My boys have also learned to try new foods. They are becoming far more aware of the work that goes into growing. They are also becoming more in tune with how the weather, and seasons affect our plants.

My son calls these 'finger berries'

3. Cut the tops off veggies like onion, celery, and carrots. Try to regrow them at home. You could also try growing seeds in clear jars so they can watch the growing process. My boys have started apple trees and dragon fruit from seeds they collected while eating their snack. Our best celery we grew can from replanting store bought celery. They also love sprouted chick peas. My suggestion is to have fun experimenting and growing the actual food they are eating. Or try something new and learn about how it grows. (Wow so much science and learning happening).

4. Forage during different seasons. We discovered over 30 edible plants within our yard or walking distance to us. My family knows that the wild raspberries will be ready in late July. They can tell which blackberries will be sweet or sour by their colour. So many plants are great for healing and nourishing. We regularly make teas, tinctures, and creams with them. Now that is for another post.

5. Make smoothies and have a taste test party. Let your children experiment with different flavour combinations. I did not expect my boys to enjoy adding pineapple to their favourite smoothie. But it was a big hit! Along with smoothies you can pour the extras into popsicle moulds to save for later. I also highly recommend 'nice cream'. Basically you use frozen bananas (peel and slice them first before freezing) and any add in flavour combinations you choose to blend into a soft serve ice cream type treat. You won't feel guilty about offering your children nice cream for breakfast!

6. Taste individual ingredients and spices in you panty. Of course you will need to be very careful about how much, or if an item is safe for your child. But allowing your kids to taste one distinct flavour at a time can help them to make that connection with it. Better yet grow your own herb garden and start experimenting with tastes. My middle son discovered a love of strong flavours. This year he has chosen to grow chives, dill and mint. I regularly see him snacking on his plants while he is playing in the yard.

7. Make different teas using edible flowers and pine needles. Or go through your pantry and taste what you have on hand. Many children have never tried tea before. Herbal teas do not generally have caffeine. You could compare the smells and tastes. Try different combinations of flavours. Learn about the properties of those plants to see how they affect the body. For example chamomile and lavender are relaxing, while mint and catnip are good for headaches and fevers. 

8. Be brave and try something new. 
 Let your children pick out something they have never tried before. You may need to research what to do with it and that is part of the fun. I encourage you to prepared several ways and try it several times. Our bodies need to get used to new foods and maybe the texture or way it was prepared one time might not be our preference. We went from thinking dragon fruit was a wild looking weird fruit to my son learning how to grow the plats from seed. He will be selling some of his tiny plant in the spring.

9. Play with your food. Make creatures with tooth picks, paint with purees, guess what different purees or baby-food is, then taste it. With really little ones you can make safe sensory painting experiences with rice cereal and a drop of food colour.

10. Visit a farm, farmer's market, or pick your own location. Show your children where their food comes from. Really help them get into the experience. Some farms offer educational programs and demonstrations. Getting to know your growers creates a special bond to the food as they remember who it came from. At the end of the growing season I went to the last farmer's market to thank those who we frequented often. They all felt so blessed by our kind words and one even offered us a gift of honey comb (another new experience for my boys). If you have special dietary needs you maybe able to source hard to come by items by talking directly to farmers and growers.

11. Invite your children to be in charge of one meal each week. Mondays is for MJ, Tuesday is for TJ and our youngest will soon be getting his own day of the week too. They know that they get to pick dinner that week (they look forward to their favourite foods) and as they grow I am teaching them how to cook for us. You could start simple by having them get involved in preparing snacks, bread and baking.

12. Learn how animals eat and what they eat. What is your child's favourite animals and how/what does it eat? Are there any animals that eat the same foods you like? Are there any animals with interesting eating habits? How do animals' eating habits change with the seasons?

13. Find out which animals and their sense of taste. Read some books together, watch a documentary or shorter video, visit a zoo or animal sanctuary. Make learning fun, engaging and about family relationships. Bring out your nature journal to record what you are learning. Paint a picture or write about it.

Animals that have a great sense of taste could include:

Catfish have the most tastebuds about 27,000

How about animals with poor taste:

The cat family can not taste sweets
Sea Lions
Chickens only have 24 tastebuds

14. Go on a five senses scavenger hunt. There are any options for printable versions or you could make your own.  Perhaps you could make a separate poster for each of the senses you are exploring. Below are the links to a few scavenger hunts I found online.

Nature Scavenger Hunt Printable by Childhood 101 
Five Senses Nature Walk Scavenger Hunt on Teachers Pay Teachers
Nature Walk Worksheet on Teachers Pay Teachers
Winter Nature Scavenger Hunt by Backyard Brilliant

Trying a salad made from items we grew

Be sure to check out the rest of the series as the are posted


  1. I love the idea of growing food from the ends of store bought items. I never really heard of this technique until recently. Totally makes me want to try it.

    1. It really is easy, though we've had some flops too. Right now we have dragon fruit , apple trees and an avocado the boys started from fruit they've eatten.


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