Mimi and the Grands

Educating Through Multiple Intelligences

Creating A Multiple Intelligences Lesson Plan

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. If you would like to see some sample study units I have created using Multiple Intelligences, I have placed some blog links at the end of this post.

While I have created and posted several lesson plans/study units that I have used with my young grandsons over the past years, 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)

My grandsons love to cook with me.

My grandsons love to cook with me.

  • 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)

When studying the letter R, Kona had to say a word with the "r" sound before he could toss a ring over a cone.

When studying the letter R, Kona had to say a word with the “r” sound before he could toss a ring over a cone.

  • 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)

Tahoe was eager to use his pattern blocks on pre-made mats to make Nativity scenes.

Tahoe was eager to use his pattern blocks on pre-made mats to make Nativity scenes.

  • 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)

Allowing children an opportunity to explore with materials on their own is a great learning experience for them. Kona enjoyed playing with the nativity set by himself.

Allowing children an opportunity to explore with materials on their own is a great learning experience for them. Kona enjoyed playing with the nativity set by himself.

  • 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 how I have used Multiple Intelligences to plan study units for my grandsons, here are some samples:





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:




Multiple Intelligences in Your Home Part 8

Does your child wonder how things work? Do your children like to count their toys or organize them into categories? These would be indications of their logical-mathematical intelligence.   This intelligence is also called “number smart” because it usually involves a thought process using symbols or numbers.

I can see my grandsons using their logical-mathematical intelligences when they play. The children in your care probably do these same things. For example, they count the number of trains they can fit on their train tracks,  the number of grapes I give each of them (to be sure they are each getting their equal share), and they count backwards from ten when they are launching their space shuttle toy. I love their fascination with their mom’s measuring tape. Just the other day,  Kona found the measuring tape and was measuring the height of the chairs by the kitchen counter. (Not sure why.) Tigger is really interested in coins right now, especially since he learned that they can add up to different amounts of money. He likes to play with the pennies, nickels, dimes, and quarters that I keep in his car seat cup holder while I drive him home from school.


Our logical-mathematical thinking allows us to reason, see patterns, and solve problems. People who are strong in the logical-mathematical intelligence are good at analysis so they are drawn to games that require strategy. Besides being strong in calculations,  they additionally enjoy science experiments, doing puzzles, and solving mysteries. The character Sherlock Holmes was created as a logical-mathematical thinker. Real people who would be considered having strengths in the logical-mathematical intelligence would be Bill Gates or Albert Einstein. As adults, people with strengths in this area might pursue careers such as doctors, scientists, accountants, or detectives.


Tahoe can't resist a chance to play this math game by himself. It is best to let children play with the manipulatives for awhile first before teaching them the rules of the game.

Tahoe can’t resist a chance to play this math game by himself. It is best to let children play with the manipulatives for awhile first before teaching them the rules of the game.

To encourage the engagement of a child’s logical-mathematical intelligence, these materials or activities could be provided at home:

blocks (building, attribute, etc.)

iPad apps (such as Counting Caterpillars and Marble Math, Jr.)

board games (math specific or just ones that use dice or numbers to move spaces)

educational children’s shows that focus on math (like Team Umizoomi)

rulers, measuring cups, measuring spoons, thermometers

multiples of any favorite toy (my grands love to count their cars and trains)


construction sets

toy clocks


having items for them to categorize (buttons, leaves, small toys)

card games (like Go Fish)


toy phones, computers, and calculators

shopping ads

science experiments that use numbers (Where is your shadow at 10 a.m. Noon, 2 p.m. and 4 p.m.?)

number lines (could be created with sidewalk chalk on your driveway)

shape sorting toys

creating patterns together (red button, green button, red button, green button, etc.)

cutting food into fractions (apple in halves, sandwich in fourths)

explaining how you  solve a life problem using math (I can get 2 avocados for $1, so I’ll get 4 avocados for $2.)


I hope this series has given you some basic information into the eight intelligences that we all possess, as theorized by Dr. Howard Gardner. In future posts I will show how I apply this theory when planning learning units for my grandsons.

In my next post, I will discuss a different topic; the best books I’ve read over the past few months. Reading is one of my favorite pastimes, other than watching the grands, of course. I hope you’ll be able to relate to the struggles I have had in finding time to read, even in retirement. And if you are looking for a good book to read, maybe one of my recommendations will strike your fancy.

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Multiple Intelligences in Your Home Part 7

I have chosen to explain linguistic (and logical mathematical) intelligence in my later posts because these two intelligences are the ones that often come to mind when people think of giftedness. Historically, most people were judged on their intelligence according to their ability in reading, writing, and mathematics. Those were the mental capabilities tested in most IQ tests. But according to Howard Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligence, each individual has their own unique blend of the eight intelligences, and can be gifted in other ways. I wanted my readers to explore the other six intelligences first before I discussed the intelligences which may be more familiar to them. This post will provide an explanation of the linguistic intelligence. (By the way, people who read blogs are often strong in this intelligence.)


This intelligence is also known as being “word smart” because it has to do with an acuteness towards language relating to speaking, listening, reading, and writing words. People who have strengths in this intelligence enjoy expressing themselves through words, and may have the ability to learn other languages easily. Often people who are highly linguistic may choose careers as journalists, editors, writers, motivational speakers, politicians, teachers, religious leaders, interpreters, and tour guides.

To encourage children to develop or strengthen their linguistic intelligence, here are just a few materials and activities that you might use:


To encourage the linguistic intelligence, it is helpful to have a variety of genres of books, writing materials, and audiobooks.

To encourage the linguistic intelligence, it is helpful to have a variety of genres of books, writing materials, and audiobooks.

lots of children’s books of different genres (fiction, non-fiction, poetry, etc.)

children’s magazines and other appropriate printed material

alphabet puzzles

alphabet magnets

picture dictionaries

letter stamps and stamp pads

writing paper or journals

individual dry erase boards (with dry erase markers and erasers)

iPad apps (such as Reading Raven)

educational children’s show on reading (such as Wallykazaam)

making up stories together

using sign language

family discussions

listening to audiobooks

telling riddles and jokes

singing and/or listening to songs

reading signs when traveling

playing word games like Scrabble and Boggle


I hope this series is providing a nice overview of Howard Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences. If you would like more information on his theory,  Dr. Gardner has written several books including Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences (published in 1983 so it does not cover the naturalist intelligence which he added later). 

The last part of this series will cover the logical-mathematical intelligence. Future posts that  currently are in draft form include a long blog on using multiple intelligences to teach short vowels, and a more personal article on how I exercise my linguistic intelligence: some of my favorite books of the past few months.

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Multiple Intelligences in Your Home Part 6

If you are someone who likes to be a part of a team, loves being around friends, and shows concern for others, you may be very strong in the interpersonal intelligence. The root word “inter” means between or among. So interpersonal intelligence refers to the connections between or among people.


Children who are strong in this intelligence relate and communicate to people very well. They are usually extroverted, have empathy for others, enjoy persuading others to their point of view, can see other people’s perspectives, and like to be in charge of groups of people.  Mother Theresa and U. S. President Ronald Reagan would be examples of people who were strongly interpersonal.

Keep in mind that people can be both strong in the intrapersonal (self smart) and interpersonal (people smart) intelligences.

To encourage a child's interpersonal intelligence, have them play with materials or equipment that requires participation by more than one person.
To encourage a child’s interpersonal intelligence, have them play with material or equipment that requires participation by more than one person.


 To support and strengthen a child’s interpersonal intelligence, provide materials and opportunities in which the child needs to engage with others. Here are a few ideas:

play dates

board games (or any game that requires collaboration)

play equipment that requires more than one person

chatting on phone with grandma (or other relatives and close friends)

role playing (tea parties, how to order at a restaurant)

team sports

giving opportunities to lead an activity or group

cooking with adults

volunteering (with an adult)

introducing them to people in the community (neighbors, librarians, grocers, police officers)


The last two posts in this series will give overviews of the linguistic (word smart) and logical-mathematical (number smart) intelligences. Then I will begin a series on applying the Theory of Multiple Intelligences to the teaching of short vowel sounds.




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Multiple Intelligences in Your Home Part 5

Have you ever craved some “alone” time during the day? You know, just a chance to go off by yourself to think, read, write, or just regroup? Or perhaps you were part of a team at school or work, but would rather have done the project by yourself? This would be your brain engaging the intrapersonal intelligence. Intra means “within or inside” so intrapersonal intelligence is sometimes also called “self smart”. People who are strong in this intelligence are often self-motivated, independent, introverted, organized, goal-oriented, and  enjoy self reflection. They can also have very strong feelings or opinions about things going on around them.


You can recognize the intrapersonal intelligence in young children whenever they tell you they want to do something “by myself” or want to play alone. My grandson, Tigger, is very “self smart”. When he was about three years old, he would discuss the day’s plans with me before he had breakfast. Tigger would tell me what he thought we should have for breakfast, what games we should play, when we should go outside to play, which crafts we should make, go over the lunch menu, his nap, and what television shows he could see after his nap. By the time he was five, he had learned to tell us when he needed to be alone. This usually occurred as soon as he returned home from school, or had been playing with his younger brothers for awhile. To provide for this need, his parents have given him two choices for his “alone  time”: he can play alone in his room, or he can relax in a special “tipi” his parents have improvised for this use in the great room (shown below).

To encourage a child's intrapersonal intelligence, designate or create an area in your home or classroom where children can have some "alone" time.

To encourage a child’s intrapersonal intelligence, designate or create an area in your home or classroom where children can have some “alone” time.

Many elementary school teachers that I have visited have knowingly created special places in their classrooms for quiet reading (a sofa, bean bag chairs, loft, tent, or plump pillows) where their students can get cozy with a book. These are great spaces to encourage a child’s intrapersonal intelligence.

Below I have listed some items, materials, or activities you can use in your home to support the intrapersonal intelligence with the children under your care. As always, remember that many of the supplies can fit into more than one category of intelligence:

special place for “alone time”

materials for their hobbies or interests they can do by themselves

art supplies

writing supplies

construction sets


picture books


giving them choices

asking them to talk about their feelings

discussing their goals with them


In the next part of this series, I will present the opposite to intrapersonal intelligence. This would be the “people smart” intelligence or interpersonal intelligence. Remember, according to Howard Gardner’s theory, everyone has their own unique blend of all eight intelligences. That means people aren’t necessarily either intrapersonal or interpersonal. I know many people who are very strong in both of these intelligences, so you can be “people smart” as well as “self smart”.

I’m hoping this series is providing a good overview on The Theory of Multiple Intelligences. In future series I will be explaining how I use multiple intelligence strategies when I teach my grandsons specific concepts. I can’t wait to share with you all of my ideas!




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Multiple Intelligences in Your Home Part 4

So far in this series I have covered the bodily-kinesthetic, spatial, and musical intelligences. These are part of the original seven intelligences as proposed by Howard Gardner when he first published his book Frames of Mind:The Theory of Multiple Intelligences in 1983.  Gardner added the naturalist intelligence in 1999.

Do you look forward to a summer camping trip, autumn colors in the trees, snow capped mountains, or the first blooms in the spring?  If you have ever embraced the smell of the salty air at the beach, or enjoyed the pine scented fragrance of the forests, you were engaging your naturalist intelligence. I remember how much my 4th and 5th grade students looked forward to the afternoons I would walk them to the park next to our school to read under the trees. We could have stayed in the classroom to read for an hour, but there  was something special about spreading out blankets on the grass and curling up with a good book on a warm spring day.

According to Gardner, people with a strong naturalist intelligence are highly aware of patterns and changes to their environment, and like to relate their learning to the natural world. Nurturing and interacting with plants and animals are very important activities for people who are strong in the naturalist intelligence.

Here are some supplies or activities you could use to encourage the naturalist intelligence in young children:

Taking trips so young children can enjoy the learning experiences in the environment will inspire their naturalist intelligence.

Taking trips so young children can enjoy the learning experiences in the environment will inspire their naturalist intelligence.

Trips to local zoos, parks, orchards, gardens, and outdoor museums

Planting and caring for a garden

Caring for pets

Maintaining bird feeders in your backyard

Playing in dirt, mud, or sand (like building sandcastles)

Lots of time observing plants, animals, insects, etc. in your own outdoor spaces

Books on animals, plants, weather, environments, butterflies, birds, etc.

Supervised use of magnifying glasses, telescopes, cameras, and binoculars

Camping trips to beaches, state and national parks

Park ranger talks

Hiking local trails

Children’s nature videos and television shows (such as “Wild Kratts” and “Octonauts”)

Reading books under a tree


Now that we have covered four of the intelligences, I hope you are seeing that you have most likely already provided many of these materials or experiences for the children in your care. Feel free to share some of your ideas with me too.  I love getting new inspirations.

In the next article in this series I will discuss the intrapersonal intelligence.

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Multiple Intelligences in Your Home Part 3

In the next installment of this series, the focus is on the musical intelligence.  For most of us, music is an important part of our daily lives. We might wake up to music on our clock/radios, sing in the shower, play music from a cd while driving, hum a song while walking down a hallway at work, or listen to some romantic rhapsodies during a candlelight dinner with our sweetie. Businesses recognize the power of music on our brains too. Most large stores play tunes as you shop, commercials use popular songs to help you remember their product, you hear music on the phone when you are placed on hold, and you probably hear relaxing rhythms while getting a massage.

Music stimulates many parts of the brain including the areas that handle our emotions and memories. It is no wonder that we can remember certain events from our life by recalling the music that was a part of it. We often remember movies by their theme songs. Patients with dementia may not remember their children’s names, but can sing the words to their favorite songs from their teenage years. And music can be a powerful teaching tool as well. I know that if I need to look up the word “ilium” in a dictionary, I need to sing the alphabet song to remember to look after the “h” words. (I always get the order of h, i,  j, and k mixed up otherwise.) So teaching by engaging the musical intelligence is a very powerful strategy.


People with strengths in the musical intelligence learn, feel, and think through sounds, rhythms, patterns, chants, and melodies. They may be very good at deciphering codes and identifying patterns in many things including numbers. Additionally, those with a strong musical intelligence will spontaneously hum, tap, clap, dance, or whistle songs.


Here are just a few items that can be used to encourage the musical intelligence. Homemade musical instruments (like a pot and wooden spoon) work just as well as purchased instruments.

Here are just a few items that can be used to encourage the musical intelligence. Homemade musical instruments (like a pot and wooden spoon) work just as well as purchased instruments.

Toys, materials, and activities to encourage musical intelligence in young children include:

Simple musical and rhythm instruments (purchased or homemade)

Songs on CDs and tapes

Nature sounds

Background music on the radio

Audiotapes of children’s nursery rhymes or poetry

Singing with or to your child

Videos of songs or finger plays (like “Five Little Monkeys”)

Musical stuffed animals (for naptime)

Books with rhythmic language patterns (like Dr. Seuss)

Toys that play music or sounds (such as toy telephones)


I hope you are finding this series helpful in planning a multiple intelligence rich environment for the children in your lives. Feel free to comment on materials that you use to encourage the musical intelligence.

In the next installment of this series, I will explain the naturalist intelligence.

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Multiple Intelligences in Your Home Part 2

In the first part of this series I covered the bodily-kinesthetic intelligence. When you see young children trying to climb up your sofa, putting on a cape and mask before zooming around the house, or making “snakes” with Playdoh, they are engaging their bodily-kinesthetic intelligence.

However, when you see children mixing two watercolors together, piecing together Lego blocks to look like the picture on the Logo box, or watching a children’s video on your iPad, they are using their spatial intelligence.


Children with strengths in the spatial intelligence are attracted to the color, line, and shapes of their environment. Another part of this learning style is the ability to think in pictures and see visual relationships. Allowing young children the opportunity to daydream, manipulate models, and express themselves through art media would be consistent with the spatial intelligence.  Visual presentations such as posters, videos, and demonstrations should also be made available when engaging children through the spatial intelligence.

Here are some materials that are provided to my grandsons to encourage their spatial intelligence.

Here are some materials that are provided to my grandsons to encourage their spatial intelligence.

As I begin the list of some items that might be part of an enriched spatial multiple intelligence environment, keep in mind that some items fit into more than one category. For example blocks can be found in spatial (for creating structure and spaces), but blocks also require fine motor coordination so they are additionally bodily-kinesthetic tools.

Here are some ideas for spatial materials:

Drawing utensils such as crayons, markers, and sidewalk chalk

Paper: construction, fingerpainting, sketching, tissue

Paints: fingerpaints, watercolors, temperas, dot paints, brushes

Playdough, slime, modeling clay

Glue stick, glue bottle, glitter glue

Foam board (or precut foam board shapes)

Craft sticks, pipe cleaners, pom-poms, google eyes

Recyclables such as egg cartons, boxes, paper towel rolls

Access to media to see children’s videos, apps, or games

Posters for children (animals, cars, trains, alphabet, numbers and shapes, or anything that interests them)

Puzzles and mazes

Maps and globes (The grands especially love to keep the souvenir maps they get at zoos.)

Construction sets or materials (i.e. Legos)

Model sets to make cars, boats, spaceships,etc.

Art books and craft books

Art books and magazines are also great materials to have available. Since our grandsons are still fairly young, these materials are used by the adults who provide the arts and crafts activities for the grands.

Art books and magazines are also great materials to have available. Since our grandsons are still fairly young, these materials are used by the adults who provide the arts and crafts activities for the grands.

There are so many other materials that could be used to encourage a child’s spatial intelligence. I get new ideas all the time from other bloggers. Feel free to comment on materials that you have found useful.

In the third part of this series, I will cover the musical intelligence.

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Multiple Intelligences in Your Home Part 1

For young children, learning is not always planned. It just happens….all the time. That is why parents and educators try to create a stimulating environment for children filled with a variety of colorful posters, books, blocks, crayons, and other toys. Spontaneous investigation and play with these materials is extremely important.

In providing an appealing environment for your home (day care room, classroom), why not offer items for each of the eight intelligences? You most likely have done so instinctively, even if you’ve never heard of the Theory of  Multiple Intelligences before reading this blog.

So I am starting a series to highlight some items for young children that would lend themselves to each of the intelligences. This is not an exhaustive list, but should be useful in considering materials you already have or want to get to help children utilize each of their eight intelligences.

I’ll start with a brief overview of each intelligence before listing some components of a multiple intelligence rich environment.


This intelligence involves learning through fine and gross motor activities. With this intelligence, people process information through their tactile senses, movement, and expression. Basically any physical activity or hands-on activity would fit into this category.  Creative dramatics such as role playing, pantomimes, and charades are also using the bodily-kinesthetic intelligence.

Keep in mind that many bodily-kinesthetic materials can also be categorized under the other intelligences. For example, crayons are found in the bodily-kinesthetic intelligence (because they contribute to fine motor skills) as well as spatial intelligence (because crayons can create pictures). Toys and other supplies to promote bodily-kinesthetic learning opportunities include:

Some of our bodily-kinesthetic toys and materials.

Some of our bodily-kinesthetic toys and materials.


Playdough, silly putty, and slime

Dry erase boards and markers

Coloring book with crayons and markers

Safety scissors

Lacing and beading toys

Balls of all sizes, including balance balls and nerf balls

Scooters, bikes

Pull toys

Sensory bins 0f rice, beans, pasta, or kinetic sand

Mini trampolines

Dress up clothes and fabric remnants (to create their own fashions)

Blocks, Legos, and other construction sets

Toy cars, trucks, buses, airplanes, helicopters

Toy tools and kitchen utensils

Stacking cups or rings

Sandbox toys

Water table toys, squirt guns, (and bathtub toys for the home)

Plastic containers with lids (could be empty and cleaned yogurt tubs)

Outdoor play equipment such as basketball hoops, swings, slides, climbing ropes

Hula hoops, pool noodles, and jump ropes

Butterfly nets

Musical instruments such as xylophones, drums, and maracas

Play tunnels (could be made from large cardboard boxes)

Puzzles and mazes

Exercise videos for children

Well, this list could go on and on, but you get the idea. Feel free to comment on other bodily-kinesthetic materials you use in your home or classroom for young children.

In Part 2 of this series, I will blog about materials for the spatial intelligence.

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