Multiple Intelligences and Arts Integration

Smarts, with an emphasis on ARTS!

There are so many natural connections between the MI theory and Arts Integration.  Some of them are obvious when you consider some of the Smarts that are identified: music, kinesthetic,  visual/spacial, linguistic.  But the MI theory goes even further with the other Smarts: logical, naturalistic, interpersonal and intrapersonal.  However, even these smarts are based in and a product of an education embedded in the arts.

Example: Music listening and music creation are very logical and mathematical.  There are patterns and rhythms in what we hear and create.  There are ratios of sound that make certain chords pleasing to the ear and others dissonant.  We can also see mathematical concepts in art: shapes, patterns, etc.

Example: Art is a reflection of the world around us (as is all the arts).  When we study visual art, we learn to see, really SEE and observe our environments.  Through the arts we interact with nature as well.  Forming sculptures of trees, mimicking colors and shades of grass – these are ways nature affects the art we create.

Example: Interpersonal relationships are embedded in music and dance.  When I drag out the bag of percussion instruments, my students’ faces light up and when we start playing – Woah!  Community is being built! Each individual contributes to the whole, creating a fabulous piece of music.  With partner and group dancing, the same is true.  It is a wonderful thing to see a group of students working together to make an organized square dance happen flawlessly.  And my personal favorite is the line dance or circle dance.  These dances were made to bring people together, smile and enjoy each other.

Example: Art, being an expression of self is possibly the perfect intrapersonal activity.  Many art forms can be done for the self: playing an instrument, singing, dancing, writing, painting, sketching, sculpting, observing.  The arts are a venue for reflection and appreciation of your accomplishments, mistakes, failures and successes.

The Multiple Intelligences can provide a wonderful way to embody an Arts Integration program that also fosters student autonomy.  (Just always remember that you need to stay true to the art form when planning for true arts integration.)

Two specific things I have taken away from this short time of rekindling my admiration of the MI theory:

Allow students to realize their talents and intelligences:

Identifying students intelligences and needs as learners.

  • Observe students as the work and play.
  • Look at students’ misbehaviors as a cry for help. “I need to learn this way!”
  • Go out of your comfort zone and provide opportunities to learn that are not your most-developed intelligence.
  • Loose a little control and allow students more autonomy over their learning.

On a side note: I am so happy to have taken this opportunity to read and discover more about MI.  This has whet my appetite for the Smarts once again and reignited my desire to implement and integrate them more into my teaching.  This will be a topic I continue to explore in an upcoming series.  (Next is Music and Literacy!)  If you would like to join me by guest blogging, please email me and let me know.  You are also always encouraged to comment to any of the Multiple Intelligences posts (and other posts as well!)


Photo Credit: This painting was created by Sue Scott, Fellow with OKA+ Schools.  Please visit

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Article by Elizabeth Peterson

Elizabeth Peterson has devoted her life to education and to reaching out to other teachers who want to remain inspired. Mrs. Peterson teaches fourth grade in Amesbury, Massachusetts and is the host of She holds an M.Ed. in Education, “Arts and Learning” and a C.A.G.S. degree with a focus in “Arts Leadership and Learning.” Elizabeth is author of Inspired by Listening, a teacher resource book that includes a method of music integration she has developed and implemented into her own teaching. She teaches workshops and courses on the integration of the arts into the curriculum and organizes the annual summer Teacher Art Retreat. Mrs. Peterson believes there is a love of active, integrated learning in all children and from their enthusiasm, teachers can shape great opportunities to learn.
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