With the start of the new year, I know many of you are going back to planning lessons for the children in your care. Whether you’re a classroom teacher, a homeschooler, a Sunday School teacher, a caregiver, or an afterschooler, I’m sure you always try to plan lessons that will create lifelong learners among the beautiful minds that you teach.
And since I am a big advocate of Howard Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences, I highly encourage anyone who writes such lesson plans to include multiple intelligence strategies to ensure that every child in your care has an opportunity to be taught to his/her strengths.
While I have created and posted several lesson plans/study units that I have used with my young grandsons this past year, I certainly have not covered all the topics that you may be covering in your classroom or home. So this may be a good time to explain how any lesson planner can easily incorporate multiple intelligence strategies when planning and implementing a unit of study for children.
I also recognize that many of you use a curriculum that has been purchased that includes textbooks and worksheets. You do not have to abandon these resources in order to use multiple intelligences. In fact, many publishers do include multiple intelligence activities in their unit plans, although they might not be part of the “basic” lesson plan, but listed under Extension, Enrichment, or Differentiation sections of the teacher’s resource book (so you may have to look for the multiple intelligence ideas).
Think about lesson planning as though you are creating a “learning buffet” for children. While it may seem easier to just use the “basic meat and potatoes” textbook and worksheets with the children under your care, keep in mind that many worksheets are written to engage the learner in the lower levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy (with no interesting seasonings, gravies, or sauces). So even if a child really likes to do worksheets, they may not get enough higher level thinking skills if worksheets are the “main course” for the “learning buffet” that is provided to them. I try to keep that in mind if I decide to offer worksheets to my grandsons. (Actually my grandsons’ school and preschool give them worksheets for homework, so I prefer to whet their “learning appetites” with more savory fare anyway.) Using multiple intelligence strategies can be part of the “main course” as well, but think of these activities also as the other foods you would find at a buffet: the appetizers, salads, side dishes, and desserts. Don’t leave these off your plate…I mean lesson plans.
To make adding multiple intelligences to your lesson plans as easy as possible, I have created a handy guide and listed a variety of ideas for each intelligence. While these lists are certainly not exhaustive, they have several activities under each intelligence that I liked to use in my classroom or with my grandsons. Choose and adapt at least one activity from each intelligence to use during your unit of study. In addition, keep in mind that some activities could be categorized under several intelligences. For example, writing a reflection in a journal would be both an intrapersonal and linguistic activity. Using crayons when writing spelling words would be using both the linguistic and spatial intelligences.
While it is possible to use all eight intelligences in just one lesson, you will probably be choosing to spread out your unit of study over several days. If you happen to read any of my previous posts on study units, I usually plan them for 4-8 days, depending on the topic of course. So plan away….
Linguistic (Word Smart)
- Read Textbooks or other Books-This includes reading aloud, reading silently, group readings, guided reading, choral reading, etc.
- Audio Books-Listening is an important linguistic skill, so I always keep an audiobook in my car for myself and for the grands since I end up doing a lot of driving with them. Listening to audiobooks helps children learn about expressive reading. Many textbooks have audio versions which can be very useful. I get most of my audiobooks from the library for the grands.
- Discussions-Speaking is part of the linguistic intelligence, whether you’re discussing the pictures on the pages of the book, vocabulary, or main ideas. At the school where I worked (before retirement), all the teachers had a poster on their walls with Bloom’s Taxonomy questions that could be adapted to pretty much any reading. For more information, start with this link: http://www.bloomstaxonomy.org/Blooms%20Taxonomy%20questions.pdf
- Bottle Caps, Letter Stamps, Magnetic Alphabet Letters, or Dry Erase Boards-I like to use hands on materials other than pencil and paper to engage my grandsons in linguistic activities.
- Make Lists-Some ideas of lists would include: main characters, main events, words that rhyme, sight words from the story, new words in the story, questions to explore, etc.
- Word Puzzles-I purchased some wooden word puzzles for my grandsons, but for older children crosswords and word searches are lots of fun. Find them on the Internet or create your own.
- Writing-I think some sort of daily writing is very important, whether you write a story with the children, model how to use their new vocabulary in sentences, give the children a story starter, have them answer questions in writing, or give them time to write in a journal.
Spatial Intelligence (Picture Smart)
- Crafts-Related art activities are always on the lesson plans I create for my grandsons.
- Videos-There are some amazing videos that can be found on the Internet, library, or other sources to go with your curriculum. (I always preview them before showing them to students or my grandsons.)
- Graphic Organizers-The most common graphic organizer is the Venn Diagram, but there are so many more great ones to use. Children can use them with you during discussions or as a way to organize their thoughts. Here is a link with several samples of useful graphic organizers: http://www.eduplace.com/graphicorganizer/
- Taking notes with Color-Both you and your students can use crayons, colored pens or pencils, markers, or highlighters when taking notes during lessons or reviewing key points. Using colored writing instruments is also a great way to practice spelling words.
- Drawing Pictures-This isn’t just an activity for students who can’t yet express themselves in writing, but a valuable tool to help your spatial learners remember vocabulary, science concepts, and to help understand math word problems.
- Picture Cards-Many purchased curriculums include picture cards, and you can also make your own. They have so many uses. They can be part of an exploration bin (see Intrapersonal Intelligence), used as flash cards or to create stories, hidden as part of a Treasure Hunt or Scavenger Hunt (see Bodily-Kinesthetic Intelligence), or used as you read books aloud together.
- Playdough Mats- Since I have young grandsons, I use this activity a lot. They love to play with this material anyway, plus it is useful in developing their fine motor control (so this activity could also be considered under the bodily-kinesthetic intelligence).
- Maps, Puzzles, Tangrams, Number Lines, and Timelines-These are great spatial activities, especially for social studies and math. Some schools have painted maps, planets, and number lines on their playgrounds. So even during recess, the students are practicing their learning while they play. When I taught, we had a world map painted on our school playground. While studying explorers, I would give my students some sidewalk chalk, and they would trace the explorers’ routes on the outdoor map. If you homeschool, you may be able to use chalk to make a number line on your driveway. I used number lines a lot with my class to teach addition and subtraction of negative and positive numbers.
- Realia-These are “actual” artifacts of the topic you are studying. For example, if you are studying the short sound of the letter “a” then you might have apples, apricots, and “toy” alligators around as part of your lesson.
- Experiments-You don’t have to do experiments just when you are teaching a science lesson. For example, if you are reading “The Long Winter” by Laura Ingalls Wilder, why not add depth to your children’s understanding of the book with some ice or weather experiments?
Interpersonal (People Smart)
- Dramatic Play-This can be as simple as letting children make up their own stories with the toys in an exploration bin, or as involved as allowing children to create their own small plays based on a topic given by the teacher. When I taught in the classroom, this was always a favorite activity with my students. Whether they were creating their own skits using their new vocabulary words, or depicting a scene from their social studies book, they always loved to form groups, rehearse, and present their skits to the rest of the class. While props and costumes aren’t necessary, my students usually begged for more time to make props and simple costumes as well.
- Cooking-Since I am now teaching my young grandsons in their home and they need a lot of supervision to cook, this is a group activity and can involve recipes requiring a stove or oven. When I taught in the classroom, I did not have access to a stove or an oven. Since my students were in the fourth or fifth grade, they were responsible for following the steps of a simple recipe, so it was more of a linguistic and logical/mathematical activity.
- Games-Any type of educational game that uses two or more people would fit into this intelligence. They could be as simple as guessing games like 21 Questions or an actual purchased game. I often had my fourth and fifth graders create their own board games to help review for a test.
- Elbow Partners-If you have more than one child that you teach, you may have them work with a partner during the lesson. For example, they might be creating a project together or reviewing the lesson with each other during or after a lesson. (An “elbow” partner would be the person sitting next to you.) When I taught fourth and fifth graders, I frequently would include opportunities during the lesson for my students to turn to their elbow partner to review what I had just covered with them (meaning of the vocabulary words, steps in a math problem, main idea of a section in the social studies book).
Bodily-Kinesthetic (Body Smart)
- Responding with Movement-During lessons in my classroom, I liked to do plenty of review and I wanted all the students to respond. So instead of having students say their answers or writing them down on paper, I would have them respond with movement. For example, I would use true or false statements to check their understanding of the content in science or social studies; I would have them jump up and down for true statements, and turn in a circle for false statements. If I was checking their understanding of prime numbers, I would have them stamp their feet if I called out a prime number, and wave their arms if I called out a composite number. There are many ways to adapt this concept to the topic of your lesson.
- Pantomimes-I love using pantomimes with students. I used them a lot in my classroom when I taught vocabulary or steps in a math problem. It is amazing how much this helped my students remember new words and math formulas.
- Scavenger Hunts-Help your children become more observant while getting a chance to move around by frequently using scavenger hunts. Pick a topic “looking for things around the house that have circles” or use picture cards to locate items that match what you are studying. (If you do this activity outside, you are also adding the naturalist intelligence.)
- Learning while Exercising-When doing jumping jacks with the children, think of other ways to count besides from one to ten. I had my students practice their multiples by counting by twos, fives, even sevens while they exercised. Our physical education teacher had them count their exercises in whatever world language they were studying in the classroom. If you play games such as “Steal the Bacon” you can use vocabulary words instead of numbers and then students get to run to get the flag when they hear their definition.
- Indoor Treasure Hunts-Hide some items of “realia” around the house or yard and give hints to help them find them. It could be as simple as saying “You’re getting warmer” or as complex as a treasure map with hidden clues.
Naturalist intelligence (Nature Smart)
- Field Trips-Leaving the confines of your classroom or home can be very motivating. You don’t have to visit a museum or fire station to consider it a “field trip”. My class loved going to a nearby park with their sketching pads or reading books.
- Using Natural Materials-Use items found in nature for art projects, making the shapes of letters, or just for sensory lessons.
- Observing Nature-Draw pictures of clouds and flowers, do bark tracings, take along magnifying glasses and binoculars to get “close and personal” with nature.
- Outdoor Scavenger Hunt-This is similar to the Indoor Scavenger Hunt, but done outside in your backyard, neighborhood, or local park.
- Gardening-This activity is great for science lessons (how plants grow), health (growing new foods to introduce into their diet), fine motor control (digging and weeding), math (counting petals, categorizing leaves), and even social studies (growing plants from different continents).
- Teaching Outdoors-Just move your “classroom” outside. Use a blanket for chairs and take any lesson which doesn’t require a lot of supplies to a location on a grassy knoll or under a tree. I visited a school that had actually designated a large tree in their playground as the “Poet-tree” and had small benches underneath it. You wouldn’t have to use this space just for reading or reciting poetry, although that would definitely be a fun activity for it.
Logical/Mathematical Intelligence (Number/Reasoning Smart)
- Counting Activities: For younger children, counting is always a great activity whether you are counting the pictures on the page of a book, the number of sides on an octagon, or the letters in a word.
- Measuring:Besides measuring any artifacts (realia) that you may be using as part of your studies, you can find the measurements of animals, airplanes, distance between planets, etc. on the Internet. For example, are you studying explorers? Take a meter or yardstick outside along with some sidewalk chalk, and measure the length of the deck one of their ships. http://www.thenina.com/
- Shape Search-Look for a particular shape in your environment or use pattern blocks to make pictures of topic related items.
- Creating Word Problems-One of the easiest ways to incorporate this intelligence into your lesson plans would be to create word problems for the topic you are studying. For example, “The deck length of the Pinta was 85 feet, while the deck length of the Nina was 65 feet. Which ship had the longer deck length and by how much?”
- Finding Patterns-This doesn’t just mean mathematical patterns (such as red square, green square, red square, green square, etc.) but can be related to any pattern. For example, the water cycle is a pattern, human behavior can follow a pattern, the seasons follow a pattern, and so forth…
Intrapersonal Intelligence (Self Smart)
- Independent Reading-Reading books, magazines, or Internet articles related to the topic you are studying is just one way children can use their intrapersonal intelligence.
- Exploration Bins-Gather together books and artifacts (realia) related to the topic and keep them in a bin or bookshelf. Allow the children time to investigate and explore these items by themselves during their free time.
- Computer Apps-I am always looking for good educational apps for my grands to use as part of their intrapersonal time.
- Reflections-After a lesson or unit of study, it is very useful to have the children reflect on it. You can either ask the children what they learned and/or how they could apply it to life. This could be done orally or the children could write/draw pictures in a journal.
Musical Intelligence (Music Smart)
- Fingerplays and Songs-Finding fingerplays, songs, or chants that will follow the topic you are studying is a useful activity. (Most children remember the order of the alphabet by singing the “ABC Song”.)
- Create your own Fingerplays, Songs, or Chants-If you can’t find fingerplays, songs, or chants that are related to your topic, they can be created by you or the students. I usually incorporate familiar tunes when I create my songs, but there is no reason why you couldn’t use original compositions as well. Many of my students would write the best lyrics!
- Listening to Music/Songs-Another way to incorporate the musical intelligence is to find music that relates to your topic. For example, use Vivaldi’s “The Four Seasons” when you teach about the seasons or Gustav Holst’s “The Planets” when teaching astronomy.
- Background Music-Just listening to music while you are working on some other activity can be beneficial. I’m sure you already play music while working on art projects, so why not try it during other subjects? In my classroom, students enjoyed listening to some soft Spanish guitar music while doing their math problems. Another great time to use music is during transition time between subjects. Put on some peppy band music or dance tunes while they put away their math manipulatives or art supplies, and the rhythm of the music will make these tasks more enjoyable. (Listening to my favorite rock songs certainly invigorates me when I do housework.)
There are so many other ideas I could mention in this guide, but I hope you will find this post useful when creating your own units of study. In the upcoming months I will continue to post lesson plans I have created for my grandsons. My wish is that these posts will stimulate your creative juices when designing engaging lessons for the children in your care.
I hope you are finding these Multiple Intelligence activities useful as you plan lessons for children in your care. If you would like to see more of these unit studies as I create them, you can become a follower of this blog.
I love to add my blog posts to link parties such as: