Multiple Intelligences Howard Gardner, Ph. D

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Multiple Intelligences

Howard Gardner, Ph.D.

Howard Gardner of Harvard has identified seven distinct intelligences. This theory has emerged from recent cognitive research and "documents the extent to which students possess different kinds of minds and therefore learn, remember, perform, and understand in different ways," according to Gardner (1991).

According to this theory, "we are all able to know the world through language, logical-mathematical analysis, spatial representation, musical thinking, the use of the body to solve problems or to make things, an understanding of other individuals, and an understanding of ourselves.

Where individuals differ is in the strength of these intelligences - the so-called profile of intelligences -and in the ways in which such intelligences are invoked and combined to carry out different tasks, solve diverse problems, and progress in various domains."

Gardner says that these differences "challenge an educational system that assumes that everyone can learn the same materials in the same way and that a uniform, universal measure suffices to test student learning. Indeed, as currently constituted, our educational system is heavily biased toward linguistic modes of instruction and assessment and, to a somewhat lesser degree, toward logical-quantitative modes as well."

Students learn in ways that are identifiably distinctive. The broad spectrum of students - and perhaps the society as a whole - would be better served if disciplines could be presented in a numbers of ways and learning could be assessed through a variety of means."


“The Distance Learning Technology Resource Guide,” by Carla Lane, Ed.D.

Multiple Intelligences—Howard Gardner, Ph.D.

The multiple intelligence learning styles are as follows:

Visual-Spatial - think in terms of physical space, as do architects and sailors. Very aware of their environments. They like to draw, do jigsaw puzzles, read maps, daydream. They can be taught through drawings, verbal and physical imagery. Tools include models, graphics, charts, photographs, drawings, 3-D modeling, video, videoconferencing, television, multimedia, texts with pictures/charts/graphs.

Bodily-kinesthetic - use the body effectively, like a dancer or a surgeon. Keen sense of body awareness. They like movement, making things, touching. They communicate well through body language and be taught through physical activity, hands-on learning, acting out, role playing. Tools include equipment and real objects.

Musical - show sensitivity to rhythm and sound. They love music, but they are also sensitive to sounds in their environments. They may study better with music in the background. They can be taught by turning lessons into lyrics, speaking rhythmically, tapping out time. Tools include musical instruments, music, radio, stereo, CD-ROM, multimedia.

Interpersonal - understanding, interacting with others. These students learn through interaction. They have many friends, empathy for others, street smarts. They can be taught through group activities, seminars, dialogues. Tools include the telephone, audio conferencing, time and attention from the instructor, video conferencing, writing, computer conferencing, E-mail.

Intrapersonal - understanding one's own interests, goals. These learners tend to shy away from others. They're in tune with their inner feelings; they have wisdom, intuition and motivation, as well as a strong will, confidence and opinions. They can be taught through independent study and introspection. Tools include books, creative materials, diaries, privacy and time. They are the most independent of the learners.

Linguistic - using words effectively. These learners have highly developed auditory skills and often think in words. They like reading, playing word games, making up poetry or stories. They can be taught by encouraging them to say and see words, read books together. Tools include computers, games, multimedia, books, tape recorders, and lecture.

Logical -Mathematical - reasoning,calculating. Think conceptually, abstractly and are able to see and explore patterns and relationships. They like to experiment, solve puzzles, ask cosmic questions. They can be taught through logic games, investigations, mysteries. They need to learn and form concepts before they can deal with details.


“The Distance Learning Technology Resource Guide,” by Carla Lane, Ed.D.

Learning Activities Connected to Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences

Verbal-Linguistic Intelligence (Word Smart)

Description: Verbal-linguistic students love words and use them as a primary way of thinking and solving problems. They are good writers, speakers, or both. They use words to persuade, argue, entertain, and/or teach.
Learning Activities and Project Ideas:

  • Completing crossword puzzles with vocabulary words.

  • Playing games like Scrabble, Scrabble Junior, or Boggle.

  • Writing short stories for a classroom newsletter.

  • Writing feature articles for the school newspaper.

  • Writing a letter to the editor in response to articles.

  • Writing to state representatives about local issues.

  • Using digital resources such as electronic libraries, desktop publishing, word games, and word processing.

  • Creating poems for a class poetry book.

  • Entering their original poems in a poetry contest.

  • Listening to a storyteller.

  • Studying the habits of good speakers.

  • Telling a story to the class.

  • Participating in debates.

Logical-Mathematical Intelligence (Math Smart)

Description: Logical-mathematical students enjoy working with numbers. They can easily interpret data and analyze abstract patterns. They have a well-developed ability to reason and are good at chess and computer programming. They think in terms of cause and effect.
Learning Activities and Project Ideas:

  • Playing math games like mancala, dominoes, chess, checkers, and Monopoly.

  • Searching for patterns in the classroom, school, outdoors, and home.

  • Conducting experiments to demonstrate science concepts.

  • Using math and science software such as Math Blaster, which reinforces math skills, or King's Rule, a logic game.

  • Using science tool kits for science programs.

  • Designing alphabetic and numeric codes.

  • Making up analogies.


Spatial Intelligence (Picture Smart)

Description: Students strong in spatial intelligence think and process information in pictures and images. They have excellent visual receptive skills and excellent fine motor skills. Students with this intelligence use their eyes and hands to make artistic or creatively designed projects. They can build with Legos, read maps, and put together 1,000-piece jigsaw puzzles.
Learning Activities and Project Ideas:

  • Taking photographs for assignments and classroom newsletters.

  • Taking photographs for the school yearbook, school newsletter, or science assignments.

  • Using clay or play dough to make objects or represent concepts from content-area lessons.

  • Using pictorial models such as flow charts, visual maps, Venn diagrams, and timelines to connect new material to known information.

  • Taking notes using concept mapping, mind mapping, and clustering.

  • Using puppets to act out and reinforce concepts learned in class.

  • Using maps to study geographical locations discussed in class.

  • Illustrating poems for the class poetry book by drawing or using computer software.

  • Using virtual-reality system software.


Musical Intelligence (Music Smart)

Description: Musical students think, feel, and process information primarily through sound. They have a superior ability to perceive, compose, and/or perform music. Musically smart people constantly hear musical notes in their head.
Learning Activities and Project Ideas:

  • Writing their own songs and music about content-area topics.

  • Putting original poems to music, and then performing them for the class.

  • Setting a poem to music, and then performing it for the class.

  • Incorporating a poem they have written with a melody they already know.

  • Listening to music from different historical periods.

  • Tape recording a poem over "appropriate" background music (i.e., soft music if describing a kitten, loud music if they are mad about pollution).

  • Using rhythm and clapping to memorize math facts and other content-area information.

  • Listening to CDs that teach concepts like the alphabet, parts of speech, and states and capitals (i.e.,Schoolhouse Rock!).


Bodily-Kinesthetic (Body Smart)

Description: Bodily-kinesthetic students are highly aware of the world through touch and movement. There is a special harmony between their bodies and their minds. They can control their bodies with grace, expertise, and athleticism.
Learning Activities and Project Ideas:

  • Creating costumes for role-playing, skits, or simulations.

  • Performing skits or acting out scenes from books or key historical events.

  • Designing props for plays and skits.

  • Playing games like Twister and Simon Says.

  • Using charades to act out characters in a book, vocabulary words, animals, or other content-area topics.

  • Participating in scavenger hunts, searching for items related to a theme or unit.

  • Acting out concepts. For example, for the solar system, "student planets" circle around a "student sun." Students line up appropriately to demonstrate events in a history timeline.

  • Participating in movement breaks during the day.

  • Building objects using blocks, cubes, or Legos to represent concepts from content-area lessons.

  • Using electronic motion-simulation games and hands-on construction kits that interface with computers.


Interpersonal (People Smart)

Description: Students strong in interpersonal intelligence have a natural ability to interact with, relate to, and get along with others effectively. They are good leaders. They use their insights about others to negotiate, persuade, and obtain information. They like to interact with others and usually have lots of friends.
Learning Activities and Project Ideas:

  • Working in cooperative groups to design and complete projects.

  • Working in pairs to learn math facts.

  • Interviewing people with knowledge about content-area topics (such as a veteran to learn about World War II, a lab technician to learn about life science, or a politician to understand the election process).

  • Tutoring younger students or classmates.

  • Using puppets to put on a puppet show.


Intrapersonal Intelligence (Self Smart)

Description: People with a strong intrapersonal intelligence have a deep awareness of their feelings, ideas, and goals. Students with this intelligence usually need time alone to process and create.
Learning Activities and Project Ideas:

  • Writing reflective papers on content-area topics.

  • Writing essays from the perspective of historical figures, such as Civil War soldiers or suffragettes.

  • Writing a literary autobiography, reflecting on their reading life.

  • Writing goals for the future and planning ways to achieve them.

  • Using software that allows them to work alone, such as Decisions, Decisions, a personal choice software, or the Perfect Career, a career choice software.

  • Keeping journals or logs throughout the year.

  • Making a scrapbook for their poems, papers, and reflections.


Naturalistic Intelligence (Nature Smart)

Description: This intelligence refers to a person's natural interest in the environment. These people enjoy being in nature and want to protect it from pollution. Students with strong naturalistic intelligence easily recognize and categorize plants, animals, and rocks.
Learning Activities and Project Ideas:

  • Caring for classroom plants.

  • Caring for classroom pets.

  • Sorting and classifying natural objects, such as leaves and rocks.

  • Researching animal habitats.

  • Observing natural surroundings.

  • Organizing or participating in park/playground clean-ups, recycling drives, and beautification projects.

Curiosity is the Mother of Intelligence

Why is curiosity so important?

  1. It makes your mind active instead of passive.

Curious people always ask questions and search for answers in their minds. Their minds are always active. Since the mind is like a muscle which becomes stronger through continual exercise, the mental exercise caused by curiosity makes your mind stronger and stronger. 

  1. It makes your mind observant of new ideas.

When you are curious about something, your mind expects and anticipates new ideas related to it. Without curiosity, the ideas may pass right in front of you and yet you miss them because your mind is not prepared to recognize them.

  1. It opens up new worlds and possibilities.

By being curious you will be able to see new worlds and possibilities which are normally not visible. They are hidden behind the surface of normal life, and it takes a curious mind to look beneath the surface and discover these new worlds and possibilities. 

  1. It brings excitement into your life.

The life of curious people is far from boring. It’s neither dull nor routine. There are always new things that attract their attention. There are always new ‘toys’ to play with. Instead of being bored, curious people have an adventurous life. 

Curiosity is the Mother of Intelligence

Tips to Develop Curiosity

  1. Keep an open mind
    This is essential if you are to have a curious mind. Be open to learn, unlearn, and relearn. Some things you know and believe might be wrong, and you should be prepared to accept this possibility and change your mind.

  1. Don’t take things as granted
    If you just accept the world as it is without trying to dig deeper, you will certainly lose the ‘holy curiosity’. Never take things as granted. Try to dig deeper beneath the surface of what is around you.

  1. Ask questions relentlessly
    A sure way to dig deeper beneath the surface is asking questions: What is that? Why is it made that way? When was it made? Who invented it? Where does it come from? How does it work? What, why, when, who, where, and how are the best friends of curious people.

  1. Don’t label something as boring
    Whenever you label something as boring, you close one more door of possibilities. Curious people are unlikely to call something as boring. Instead, they always see it as a door to an exciting new world. Even if they don’t yet have time to explore it, they will leave the door open to be visited another time.

  1. See learning as something fun
    If you see learning as a burden, there’s no way you will want to dig deeper into anything. That will just make the burden heavier. But if you think of learning as something fun, you will naturally want to dig deeper. So look at life through the glasses of fun and excitement and enjoy the learning process.

  1. Read diverse kinds of reading
    Don’t spend too much time on just one world; take a look at another worlds. It will introduce you to the possibilities and excitement of the other worlds which may spark your interest to explore them further. One easy way to do this is through reading diverse kinds of reading. Try to pick a book or magazine on a new subject and let it feed your mind with the excitement of a new world.


Experiencing the World without Vision

Imagine a child who is blind visiting the beach for the first time. He hears the lapping of waves on the shore, but may not identify it as water unless he is within touching distance. He feels the dry and wet sand, but has no way of perceiving the whole beach as it stretches along the shore. The sounds of others playing in the sun come to him, but he may not understand that Frisbees are flying or a volleyball is being hit, since he has never seen them. Perhaps his interest in listening to and imitating the family on the next blanket speaking in a language he does not understand goes unnoticed or is discouraged. He may be startled when someone slathers him with sunscreen, especially if it is cold and is applied suddenly, without warning or explanation. Someone may remove his shoes and set them aside without him being aware of where they are. The shoes will be lost to him until someone produces them at the end of the day. The boy may not initiate digging in the sand, not having seen others engaging in castle building. He may dislike the sensation of sand on his skin, particularly inside his sandals and swim trunks. If he is settled on a beach blanket and handed a sandwich and a cold juice box, it may feel like a magical event; cold food and drink appearing out of the warm air. The cawing of seagulls, the barking of a dog, and the buzzing of insects have no visual cues connected with them, making them mysterious, perhaps meaningless, or maybe anxiety-provoking. He may feel the vastness of the ocean, the expanse of the blue sky, and the openness of the beach through the wind, the sounds drifting in and out of hearing distance, and the warmth of the sun. Without visual images, however, his sense of what it is to be on a beach is very different from that of his sighted peers.

Imagine instead that a girl who is blind goes to the beach for the first time with someone who takes pleasure in introducing her to the joys of summer. She will have an entirely different experience. Her companion, who may be sighted or blind, has described where they are going so that she has some preparation for what awaits her as she first sets foot on the beach. She anticipates eating a picnic lunch on the beach, and she has helped to buy the food and pack it in the ice chest. The two beachgoers have loaded it into the car and carried it from the car to the beach. Together, they have paused to pick up some sand and feel it sift through their fingers before they venture to the shore. Her friend has pointed out how the sand becomes damper the closer they get to the water. She may have picked up some more sand on her own to examine the change in texture. She has helped spread the blanket on the sand, noticing how the wind makes it difficult to spread it flat. When she has listened to an explanation of why it is important to protect her skin from the sun, she is prepared to rub the parts she can reach with sunscreen and to ask for help with the parts she cannot reach. Her attention to the sounds, smells and tactile sensations at the beach is appreciated and forms an important part of the friends’ conversation. With assistance, she has stashed her shoes in a bag on a particular corner of the blanket; her friend hopes she will remember where to retrieve them when it is time to put them on and go home.
The day has been rich in information and less scary than it might have been. Her friend has answered questions and shown her, in small, understandable, and pleasant steps, what is enjoyable and interesting at the beach. She may not comprehend how huge the ocean looks or how beautiful the sky is that day, but she has had a better chance of relaxing in the sun, enjoying a swim, and feeling like one of the magicians who produced the lovely picnic at the beach.

Reprinted from Frances K. Liefert, "Experiencing the World Without Vision," from "Introduction to Visual Impairment" in S. A. Goodman and S. H. Wittenstein, Editors, Collaborative Assessment: Working with Students Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired, Including Those with Additional Disabilities. pp. 1-3. Copyright ©2003. New York: AFB Press, American Foundation for the Blind.  All rights reserved.

Suggestions for contents of treasure chest/sensory box

Excerpt from The Comprehending Hand by Lilli Nielsen

  1. Plastic plates (dinner, soup)

  2. Plastic cups and saucers

  3. Brushes of all sizes and shapes

  4. Washing-up brushes (wood, plastic)

  5. Pan cleaners

  6. Nail brushes, clothes brushes, hairbrushes, shoe brushes

  7. Pyramids of all sizes and shapes (Models in the shape of animals ought not be called by animal names, as the names have no meaning for blind children)

  8. Milk mugs (plastic and stainless steel)

  9. Tooth mugs (plastic and stainless steel)

  10. Tins with screw tops (different sizes)

  11. Tins with press-on lids (different sizes)

  12. Metal tins with vanilla (empty and full)

  13. Small packets of raisins

  14. Clothes pegs (wooden and plastic)

  15. Building beakers (round, rectangular)

  16. Building bricks box with sliding lid

  17. Combs

  18. Toothbrushes

  19. Spectacle case with spectacles (sun glasses of plastic)

  20. Soap box with soap

  21. Purses with different kinds of fasteners

  22. Plastic and metal tins with a round hold in the lid

  23. Cardboard and wooden boxes with round hole in the top

  24. Scissors. Magnet. Torches

  25. Cloth bags 8x4 inches, containing dried peas rice small pebbles

  26. A set of playing cards (well used)

  27. 1 ½ - yards legth of rope (leather thong type) For binding-games and exercising dressing movements

  28. Plastic tin containing buttons (with slit in top like a money box)

  29. Doorlock with key

  30. Bags made of cloth, strong canvas, leather

  31. Paper coffee bags

  32. Balls of all sizes and material

  33. Blocks which can be joined together with sticks

  34. Musical boxes

  35. Large bolts with wing nuts

  36. Parsley cutter

  37. Pepper mill

  38. Oranges – small, large; carrots

  39. Large cardboard boxes

  40. Vacuum cleaner hose

  41. Comb in case

  42. Rattles (football fan type)

  43. Different kinds of paper

  44. Bundles of round sticks

  45. Balloons (inflated with mountpiece)

  46. Electric light switches

  47. Handbags with different kinds of fasteners

  48. Tiddleywinks

  49. A round stick with white tape/ribbon (for winding and unwinding)

  50. Office aids – stapling machine, hole puncher

  51. Mouth-organ (harmonica)

  52. Spoons, teaspoons, 3 teaspoons bound together with rubber band

  53. Boxes (all sizes, with lids)

  54. Pencil cases – of leather, wood (sliding lid)

  55. Measuring spoons, kitchen spoons (wood, plastic)

  56. Buttons, small mosiaic pieces, pearls (large, small, round, oblong)

  57. Steel springs, screws, hooks

  58. Flamingo foam, plastic material

  59. Bells

  60. Rubber bands (small, large, thin, thick)

  61. Small and large balls of glass, wood, rubber, cotton wool – table tennis balls

  62. Wooden blocks of all sizes

  63. Blocks of wood in book size

  64. Balls of wool

  65. Odd pieces of leather and skin

  66. Picture book made of hardboard with holes: the “pictures” can be for example, cloth with a sipper, cloth with one button and buttonhole

  67. Belt with buckle, string with beads to be drawn up and down

  68. String with beads to be drawn to and fro

  69. Clothes pegs, rubber bands

  70. Curtain rings (one large and one small)

  71. Ear syringe

  72. Castanets

  73. Pencil case (leather with zipper)

  74. Egg beater.

  75. Cardboard tube with approx. 30 elastic bands

  76. Flat box (cigar box) with elastic bands

  77. 2 triangles

  78. Flat, round wooden blocks (different sizes)

  79. Cycle bell mounted on a piece of a broomstick

  80. Pieces of veneer (40x 10 cm)

  81. Round toothbrush dispenser (containing a marble)

  82. Small round tins and containers (different materials), containing a marbel

  83. Long cardboard tubular containers, clothcovered and containing rice, peas, etc.

  84. Buttons and pearl shells on 2 pieces of string tied in the middle giving 4 “spiderlegs”

  85. Cotton reels threaded on a string

  86. Tea egg with marble inside

  87. Plastic box – thin – with clothes pegs mounted on edge.

  88. Piece of cardboard with clothes pegs mounted

  89. A piece of “Velcro” – approx. 15 cm

  90. Clothes pegs joined together to make small “sticks”

This document contains a variety of forms and information about objects to use with students when using the Active Learning approach developed by Dr. Lilli Nielsen. These are not approved by Dr. Nielsen and only offered as tools that teachers might fine helpful in documenting their observations of a student while attempting to use the Active Learning approach defined by Dr. Nielsen.

From TSBVI Outreach Programs

  1. A ball net containing balls

  2. A door hinge

  3. A sliding door lock

  4. Cloth bag with zipper (containing paper)

  5. Cloth bag with snap fastener (paper or other materials inside)

  6. Bicycle pump, bicycle inner tube

  7. Rolling-pin

  8. Kitchen timer

  9. Rubber horn

  10. Blocks of wood the size of bricks

  11. Hula-hula rings

  12. Broom handles

  13. Alarm clock Sprinkler (for laundry use)

  14. Scent spray

  15. Kitchen beater (same system as spiral screwdriver)

  16. Dustpan and hand brush

  17. Plastic tubing (for blowing into water)

  18. Drinking straws

  19. Whistle

  20. Dried peas, etc. for “stirring” and “pouring” games

  21. Bonnets, caps, hats

  22. Gloves

Wellingtons – golashes, other kinds of foot wear in a large size

Websites for Activities to Stimulate the Senses:

(Check out lots of creative ideas on Pinterest and YouTube)
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