Cooking with Kids Addresses Multiple Intelligences

Multiple Intelligences through Cooking

I can remember being a student and feeling completely lost in the classroom sometimes – usually when the teacher was talking.  I preferred to move around, touching equipment or “toys” and learning by doing and watching others.  I also loved working with a partner to solve a problem.  I am sure that you might remember something similar.  But for you, maybe you learned best by solving equations or listening to a lecture.  Either way – one thing is clear – students (no matter what their age) have different learning styles.  These are called “multiple intelligences” and they describe the 8 different types of learning activities that cater to the strengths of each individual.

Multiple Intelligences & Examples

Cooking is an ideal teaching tool for so many reasons.  Students usually love to eat, so there is an incentive to participate.  Plus, it also integrates so easily into any existing curriculum.  Below, I’ll describe each of the multiple intelligences and give examples of how cooking addresses them.

multiple intelligences

Verbal-Linguistic Intelligence (Words)

These students love words!  They like to describe what they know, through speaking, writing or both.  They tell stories, are very convincing, and can often entertain the whole class.

Related Cooking Activities:

  • Writing recipes or a small cookbook
  • Explaining a recipe procedure to the class
  • Doing food or cooking related puzzles, games or poetry, such as those in my Cook the Alphabet activities for Kindergarteners.
  • Doing research about new foods, farming strategies, ecosystems, food cultures and writing about what they have learned
  • Writing a blog post about a cooking activity in the classroom or at home
    (ps. share these with me, pretty please!)

Intrapersonal Intelligence (Self)

Students with a strong intrapersonal intelligence are very self aware.  They are in touch with their feelings and often have many ideas and goals.  Many students who are strong in this area prefer to process and create content individually rather than in groups.

Related Cooking Activities:

  • Keeping a dietary journal of daily foods eaten
  • Creating a family cookbook, filled with recipes from relatives
  • Doing research about new foods, farming strategies, ecosystems, food cultures and writing about what they have learned
  • Setting up a series of goals about healthy eating strategies that will work for them and their families

Interpersonal Intelligence (People)

These students get along well with their peers and tend to be leaders.  They can navigate through tricky social waters and can help to mediate conflict.  They enjoy interacting with others and tend to have many friends.

Related Cooking Activities:

  • Interview family members about their food-memories from childhood
  • Interview farmers and vendors at the farmer’s market about how their food is grown.
  • Interview restaurant owners about food-related careers and the pros and cons of owning or working in a restaurant
  • Collaborating with others on designing or implementing a recipe or cooking competition
  • Working in small groups to solve math equations related to multiplying or dividing a recipe.
  • Doing a cooking-related community service project, such as the PB&J project: learning about hunger and distributing food to people who need it.

Musical Intelligence (Music)

Sound is the ideal medium through which these students learn and process information.  They like to sing, compose or perform music, and are often hearing songs in their heads throughout the day.

Related Cooking Activities:

  • Create a jingle for healthy produce (instead of for processed foods that are usually marketed on television)
  • Write a song to describe how a recipe in class was prepared and what they learned in the process.
  • Research types of music from different cultures, and play that music in class while you prepare relevant recipes.

Bodily-Kinesthetic Intelligence (Body)

These students need to move around – and can really struggle to pay attention if they are forced to sit for too long.  They can be athletic, graceful and wiggly.  They learn best by touching, manipulating and moving their bodies through space.

Related Cooking Activities:

  • Cooking!  Manipulating, measuring, prepping, stirring and combining ingredients is pure gold to these students
  • Cleaning up a cooking station – wiping counters, tables, scrubbing dishes
  • Plating the food and serving it to the class
  • Farmer’s market or Grocery store scavenger hunts (for foods starting with a certain letter, roots vs. leaves, colors, ingredients featured in different cultures, etc.)

Spatial Intelligence (Pictures):

These students think and process information visually.  They need to see images and pictures with directions.  They typically have excellent fine motor skills and are good at assembling and designing projects.

Related Cooking Activities:

  • Plating the food (beautifully!) and serving it to the class
  • Taking photographs of students in class who are cooking and share them in the class or school newsletter or on the class website
  • Illustrating recipes or cookbooks
  • Making a picture book about healthy eating or sustainable farming for younger students
  • Use mind-mapping software or drawings to demonstrate the correct sequence of steps in a recipe

Logical-Mathematical Intelligence (Math)

These students enjoy working with numbers and evaluating data and patterns.  They have a well developed sense of logic and reason.  Many students strong in this area are good at chess and computer programming, and have an appreciation for cause and effect.

Related Cooking Activities:

  • Kitchen science experiments, such as extracting DNA from a strawberry
  • Conducting experiments with recipes, such as replacing one ingredient with another, changing quantities of certain ingredients, or altering cooking time to see what happens.
  • Doing taste-tests in the classroom and graphing the results
  • Collecting data about recycling and composting in the school community
  • Multiplying or dividing recipes and calculating the required amount of ingredients.
  • Calculating elapsed time by making pancakes

Naturalistic Intelligence (Nature):

These students have a great appreciation for the environment.  They love being outside and are interested in protecting ecosystems from pollution.

Related Cooking Activities:

  • Writing a plant-based cookbook along with an explanation of how a vegetarian diet is more sustainable for the planet
  • Start a waste-free lunch campaign on campus, encouraging students to bring reusable lunch containers and water bottles instead of disposable packaging
  • Start and maintain a school garden…or, on a much smaller scale, plant seeds in the classroom
  • Interview farmers at the farmer’s market about the types of fertilizers and pesticides they use on their crops and how those choices are made.
  • Do taste-testing activities in the classroom, encouraging students to try new types of fruits and vegetables.

If you need more ideas for integrating Cook and Learn activities into your work with kids, please visit my online resource directory.

Which of these multiple intelligences speaks to you?  I’m mostly a nature and interpersonal girl, myself.


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