June 1, 2013

Multiple Intelligence Theory for Kids

Do you teach your students about Multiple Intelligence Theory? My 5th graders enjoyed learning about the “eight kinds of smart,” and it helped them appreciate each other’s strengths, especially when working in cooperative learning teams. Download a free MI survey for kids from this post and learn where to find resources for teaching these concepts to your students!
You're probably familiar with Dr. Howard Gardner’s Multiple Intelligence Theory, but have you thought about teaching your students about these concepts and the many ways they are smart? You might wonder why anyone would attempt to fit this into an already packed curriculum, but after you read this blog post, I’m hoping you’ll decide to give it a try.

Multiple Intelligence Theory suggests that IQ is not one-dimensional and can't be described by a single number. Dr. Gardner proposed that there are at least eight different types of intelligence, each one with a corresponding area in the brain. He used terms like “mathematical-logical,” “bodily-kinesthetic,” and “visual-spatial” to describe these intelligences, but many educators have adopted the more kid-friendly terms shown above. My students really enjoyed learning about the “eight kinds of smart,” and this knowledge helped everyone appreciate each other’s strengths, especially when working in cooperative learning teams.

Do you teach your students about Multiple Intelligence Theory? My 5th graders enjoyed learning about the “eight kinds of smart,” and it helped them appreciate each other’s strengths, especially when working in cooperative learning teams. Download this free MI survey for kids and learn where to find resources for teaching these concepts to your students!
Free MI Survey and Video Tutorial
When I set out to teach my students the basics of MI theory, I faced a problem. Most Multiple Intelligence Surveys were long and difficult to read, especially for elementary students. I looked for a survey that was short and included common activities that kids do, but I couldn’t find one anywhere. So - you guessed it – I created my own! It’s not research-based, but enough kids have used it over the years for me to feel confident in saying that it’s an effective tool when presented as a fun activity rather than as a scientific assessment. The survey is pretty easy to administer, but because it appears complicated, I created a slidecast video tutorial that explains exactly what to do and where to find additional resources on this topic. Both the survey and the video are free resources on the Multiple Intelligences page on my website.

Step-by-Step MI Lessons
In addition to the survey, I spent years developing a series of interactive lessons to help my students understand each of the eight kinds of smart. A few years ago, I decided to write an ebook to share my resources with others. Teaching Multiple Intelligence Theory: Step-by-Step Lessons for the Intermediate Grades includes engaging, cooperative learning activities for students to help them learn about all the ways they are smart. I've recently updated this ebook to include information about how MI theory and the research on growth mindset can be integrated into one approach. You can preview the entire ebook online from my TeachersPayTeachers store.


If you still have a few weeks of school left with your students, this would be a great time to test out the survey and some of the activities. If you are already out, you'll find this kid-friendly Multiple Intelligences survey to be an excellent way to start off the new school year. It will help your new students identify their own strengths and it will help you get to know them better. Teaching your students how people are smart in many ways can be very empowering, and most students enjoy the process of discovering how they learn best.
Laura Candler



Laura Candler

5 comments:

  1. Hi Laura,

    What a great unit! I am such a big believer in learning styles and that everyone has their own type of intelligence. We don't all fit into the same mold. I think this would be so useful for the way our learning and teaching is heading; especially in Canada where we are really interested in 21st century learning and inquiry learning. This unit would be such a good companion to my Mindful Brains unit. We should join forces and bundle it!

    :) Shelley

    The Perks of Teaching Primary

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  2. Hi Laura,
    I agree with what Shelly says. Multiple Intelligence will help pupils of all learning style to learn better. But i would request you to send me a free lesson plan for grade 6 teaching 'History' to understand how to apply multiple intelligence in classrooms.
    Regards,
    Fouzia Shazad
    School coordinator
    Beaconhouse School System
    Karachi, Pakistan

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    1. I don't have a free lesson plan to send you, but I do have an ebook that you can purchase. The link to the book is in the blog post above.

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  3. Just wanted to give you an update: there are now 9 Intelligence developed by Gardner - the Spiritual intelligence has been added and I am still surprised "mechanical" or "technological" hasn't been considered! Thanks for making the chart to help us remember to respect all learners!

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    1. Thanks for the heads up on this! I had heard that he was considering this addition but I didn't know it has officially been added. It's going to take a lot of work to revise the book, but eventually I will get around to it.

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