Multiple Intelligences for Struggling Readers

Last week we talked about Howard Gardner's Multiple Intelligences:

  •  Verbal/Linguistic or Word Smart
  •  Logical/Mathematical or Math Smart
  •  Musical/Rhythmical or Music Smart
  •  Visual/Spatial or Art Smart
  •  Bodily/Kinesthetic or Body Smart
  •  Intrapersonal orSelf Smart
  •  Interpersonal or People Smart
  •  Naturalistic or Nature Smart

Now, the question is, how do we use these multiple intelligences to help our struggling readers?  Here are some reading activities for each of the intelligences.


  • Read an alphabet book.  
  • Listen to stories on tape (follow along in the book).   
  • Make a picture dictionary. 
  • Come up with a mnemonic device for spelling tricky words (example--"oh, you lucky dog" to remember the last 4 letters in "could", "would", and "should" ).


  • Put words on index cards and sort according to common characteristics. 
  • Do or create a crossword puzzles.
  • Predict the ending of a story.
  • Deduce spelling rules based on examples.


  • Play classical music in the background to help students focus.   
  • Sing the alphabet. 
  • Put the lesson to music (like the Schoolhouse Rock clips).
  • Play rhyming games.


  • Paint letters or words.
  • Lindamood Bell's Visualizing and Verbalizing program.
  • Write words with "problem letters" in a different color.
  • Make letters or words out of clay.


  • Use flashlight to write letter/word in the air.  
  • Wet, dry, try (on chalkboard)—to write letters.
  • Visualize key word for vowel.  Use first two fingers to tap out word and vowel sound.
  • Concentration game for words or letters.


  • Student helps set personal goals and evaluate performance.   
  • Teach what is relevant to the student (vocabulary, spelling words, etc.).  
  • Allow plenty of processing time.   
  • Metacognition techniques--thinking about thinking.


  • Reader's Theater.   
  • Play a learning game.   
  • Read to a younger student. 
  • Teach a spelling rule to a classmate.


  • Write letters/words in sand. 
  • Step outside to work.   
  • Blindfolded listening--sound discrimination--sounds, letters, words.   
  • Read National Geographic books, etc.

If you have anything else you have used with your student(s), I would love to hear it!