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Teaching Kids Using All Their "Smarts"

Body Smart

Body movement and control are important elements of body smart. It includes eye and body coordination as well as balance.

We naturally think of running and jumping when we think of body smart, but there is so much more. Of course, those large games can be incorporated, but also include role-play, mime, messy activities, building, and creative movement. To use body smart, ask the kids to create their own motions to a song or depict a scripture passage. Give them problem situations where they will have to role-play a solution.

Picture Smart

There are two important parts to this smart: the interpretation of images and the creation of images. Picture smart gives meaning to images and works to understand the relationship the image has with the space.

In order to tap into picture smart, provide kids with photos, movies, illustrated books, or PowerPoint slides that include images. They will also want to create through arts and crafts or use Legos/blocks/Tinkertoys. Interestingly, these kids are doodlers…and that’s a good thing. When they are drawing all kinds of squiggles on their paper, the picture smart pathway is opening up and ready to receive information. So don’t reprimand your doodlers!

People Smart

Relationships and group dynamics are very important. People smart includes others in decision making and provides the ability to interpret body language well.

Friends are very important to kids who are people smart. They want to do everything in a group and love to party. Sharing their thoughts or opinions with others is a great way for them to learn. These kids also get excited about serving others, especially when they actually get to meet and talk with the person they are helping.

Self Smart

This smart focuses on the understanding a person has of himself. They thrive in situations where they can explore, think, and react by themselves.

In self smart, it is important for the child to have time to be quiet, meditate, work on a project by themselves, or just daydream. They enjoy private places, so reading corners will appeal to them. These kids are the ones who get inspired and motivated easily because they connect personally.

Nature Smart

The relationship with the surrounding world is very important in this smart. Understanding comes through the experience with nature.

This is probably the most difficult smart to consistently include in lessons, but anytime the opportunity presents itself, grab it. These kids love animals and plants, as well as caring for them. Books on nature, a nature walk around the church, class pets, or a field trip to a farm, aquarium, botanical garden, or zoo are ways to include nature smart.

Let me close with these reminders. When information is presented using one of the strong smarts of a child, the pathway relaxes and opens up; consequently, they are ready to take in what you have to teach. Using a variety of smarts will help all the children strengthen their weak smarts, will diminish boredom and discipline issues, and will assure that each child makes a connection with the Word.  

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After 33 incredible years in children’s ministry within the local church, Tina is now part of the KidzMatter team as Executive Editor of KidzMatter Magazine and Senior Publications Director, writing the This iKnow kids’ church curriculum. With great enthusiasm, she gallivants all over the country to train those who share her passion for reaching kids for the Kingdom. Tina has authored 12 books, one of which is used as a textbook in some universities (but it’s not boring, really).