Top Chef-Inspired Sensory Games for Kids
Turn your kids summer break into a fun-filled learning experience with a foodie game that everyone will enjoy.
Week 3 of our #KidsFood series is inspired by my love for the reality TV competition show Top Chef.
Almost every season the show has some version of a blind taste test challenge where the chefs are blindfolded and then asked to taste and identify a wide variety of ingredients. It’s shocking what happens to your sense of taste when you lose your sense of sight!
We’ve come up with a similar challenge for you and your kids (or adult friends!) to do. Our Kitchen Sensory Game will help your kids develop their senses, learn new ingredients and expand their food vocabulary.
You’ll find all the directions for the game below, but we’ve also included them in our free download, along with observation sheets and flavor vocabulary cards.
The Kitchen Sensory Game
Setting up the kitchen sensory lab might take a bit of time, but it’ll be better to have this all set up ahead of time, so your kids don’t get bored and restless, waiting for the next sensory test. In the download, we include a list of many ingredients you can use for this game, most of which you probably have in your pantry. However, feel free to use anything you already have stocked.
Before you begin, you’ll want to print out all the helpful sheets found in this download here:
Kitchen Sensory Game
Challenge the kiddos to a tasty game of learning with this fun foodie game!
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PART I: PREPARE THE SENSORY LAB
1. Prepare the Dry Ingredients
- Take out some small, clear ziplock bags and fill each bag with a separate spice or herb. Some that we recommend are cinnamon, cumin, curry powder, garlic powder, nutmeg, smoked paprika, fresh rosemary, fresh thyme, and fresh basil.
2. Make the Butter for the Tasting Game
- Use the same herbs and spices that you prepared in the bags above, so that kids can also taste each of these ingredients.
- Set out a small bowl for each herb / spice. Put 1 to 2 tablespoons of butter in each bowl and soften by microwaving each for ~10 seconds. Sprinkle in 2 to 3 teaspoons of each individual herb / spice in a separate bowl, and mash together to create a compound butter spread. Add more spices / herbs to really taste the flavor. (If you’re using fresh herbs, mince first.)
- Set each bowl of herbed / spiced butter on a separate plate with small slices of bread or toast.
If your kid is helping out: Let them mash the herbed / spiced butters, and set up the tray. They can also cut the bread / toast into small pieces.
3. Prepare the Condiments
- We have included a list of all the things you’ll need in the download, but some condiments that we recommend are anchovy paste, chocolate sauce, honey, hummus, ketchup, mustard, pesto, sour cream, soy sauce, and Worcestershire sauce.
- Spoon condiments into small saucers (or spoons if you don’t have saucers).
- Set the condiments and popsicle sticks / spoons on a sheet pan to make it easier to carry out.
If your kid is helping out: Let them spoon the condiments into the saucers or bowls. If your kids are good at reading, and you know they might want to help out, you can always put a piece of masking tape over the condiment containers, so they won’t get a head start and know what they’ll be tasting in the game!
4. Set Up the Sensory Lab
- Download and print the Observation Notes and the Flavor Star Vocabulary Cards found in our free download above.
- At the front end of the table (where the game will begin), place the Observation Notes and pencils for the kids to take and write down their guesses as they move down the table.
- Next, line up each bag of spices and herbs in a row.
- Put the corresponding butter spread (with toast) behind or next to each herb / spice bag. Place a butter knife, spreader, or spoon next to each plate.
- If your table is big enough, bring out the tray of condiments, and line them up with a jar of popsicle sticks, so that kids can dip the popsicle sticks in the sauces to taste test. You can also put a few popsicle sticks next to each condiment. Bring out a bowl to toss used popsicle sticks. If you don’t have enough space, you can clear the table after the first game, then bring out the sheet pan of condiments for the next game.
Part II: See, Smell & Taste Sensory Game
- Everyone will pick up an Observation Sheet and pencil and make their way down the table.
- Pick up each bag, one at a time, and first, guess what is in the bag just by what it looks like. Write down your observation in the space that says “See.”
- Next, crack open each bag of spice / herb by opening the ziplock bag a bit to smell and guess what’s inside. Close the ziplock bag, and write down what you think it is just by smelling it in the space that says “Smell.” It’s okay if your answer is not the same as the first one.
- Lastly, take a piece of bread, spread some butter on the bread and try to taste the flavor in the butter. Write down your guess in the space that says “Taste.”
- Once everyone has finished tasting and written their guesses down, we’ll go down the row and have everyone read out their observations, and then we’ll reveal the answers!
*Note: For those who want to do these experiments a second time around, do it blindfolded and focus on smell and taste senses.
Part III: Condiment Taste Test Game
- Keep your Observation Sheet and pencil out. You will be writing your guesses / observations on this same sheet.
- Adults: Go through the Flavor Star Vocabulary Cards with the kids.
- Go down the table, and using the popsicle sticks, taste each condiment. Use words from the Flavor Star Vocabulary Cards to describe each ingredient.
- Write down your guesses, and once everyone has finished tasting, we’ll go down the row and have everyone read out their guesses, and then we’ll reveal the answers.
*Note: For those who want to do these experiments a second time around, do it blindfolded and focus on smell and taste senses. Parents will need to hand the popsicle sticks to their kid(s).
We’d love to see photos of your kids doing this fun summer activity, so share with us on Instagram or Pinterest with hashtag #KidsFood!
This wraps up our #KidsFood series, but if you missed any of the activities, catch up and fill your summer with food-filled fun here:
Make homemade play dough with your kids for a fun activity, and give it a twist by using food ingredients… Read more.
As always, we’re here to help you live your best life in the kitchen and provide delicious memories for you and your family. Join our cooking community by signing up for our newsletter below, and we’ll send you great cooking tips and resources that will help you raise your kitchen IQ and cook with confidence.