The Missed Opportunity to Learn at Dinner

We know as parents that our kids need to eat healthy foods and we share with our children why it is important. But we are still missing out on a learning opportunity. Have you ever asked your child about the appearance, taste, texture, and type of food she is eating? Most of us would probably say rarely and when we do it is in passing, not with the purpose of learning. Learning these descriptive words will help increase your child’s vocabulary, perhaps help you understand why your child likes certain foods over others, and get the dinner table talking.

Tonight when you sit down at dinner start with the basics. Ask what each food item is on their plate. A fruit? Vegetable? Carb? Protein/meat? What they know might surprise you. After you have determined which food group each item belongs to, talk about the texture and taste of the food. As the parent start describing what you are tasting and feeling. “My applesauce is sweet and smooth. I don’t have to bite into it so it goes down smoothly.” Make sure to explain why it tastes or feels a certain way and  your child will eventually learn what these words mean. Below are a few examples to help start your food adjective quest.


Carrots are orange, crisp and crunchy with a little bit of a sweet taste.

Bunch of bananas

Bananas are yellow and when they are ripe they have black spots. It is sweet, mushy and soft.


Peas are green, hot when heated, a slight crunch and sweet.


Food Adjectives
Food Type: fruit, vegetable, grain, dairy, protein
Taste: sweet, salty, sour, bitter, hot, cold, spicy, bland
Texture: crispy, tender, smooth, creamy, chewy, tough, greasy

So tonight at dinner challenge yourself to talk about the variety of food on your dinner plate. If you need a little help be sure to check our other resources section for some ideas.

Other Resources
Savory Sensory Learning from Penn State
Food Adjective List from My Kid Adventures


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