I was reminded that the game called Set is simply awesome. I grew up loving that game. I love patterns and used to find it fun racing myself to see how quickly I could notice patterns. And I love that the game is super simple.
I've noticed that my son is pretty good with patterns too. And recently I pulled out our game called set and left it in the Homeschool pantry to see when he would notice it. He just found it today and asked to play it, though he was clueless as to what the game is about. So I pulled it out to play with him and my four-year-old (who just stared… and had fun refilling the blank spots from the cards we picked up ). She's too young. But as I was attempting to explain how to play to him, I realized I didn't quite know what the rules were for the game. I wasn't exactly sure what made the pattern and what didn't. I couldn't articulate it with words… But I knew visually.
I've always been a visual learner and catch on to things very quickly if I can see them, though my verbal explanation ability is normally more slowly developed. As my husband can attest to. :) in fact I actually grew up not only hating writing… But fearing it. I couldn't express myself with words for fear that I didn't grammatically know how to put it on paper. That's another whole story.
So anyway...instead of trying to explain the game to my son and teach him through words right away, i just started playing by myself with him as the observer. I would find a set and move those cards to him where he could see it. Then I would find another set and move that to him too. I kept doing this for a while until he said he thought he saw a set and try to guess.
I don't remember if he actually found a correct set or not… But I used this moment as a time to instruct and help him identify what did or didn't make a set. By the time I was done helping him understand why his sets he found did or didn't work… I was realizing again the rules/what the pattern is to what makes a set.
I remember hearing about s good math teacher who taught high school students. His philosophy was to get the kids playing math-based games and then they would enjoy math and teach themselves in part. And he was correct. Even his struggling students started excelling in math. Math became real to them and they could understand principles of math more intuitively through play, rather than merely his instruction. Then they were motivated to listen and learn the verbal reasons why the principles they they'd seen through their experiences worked/how to apply them in other situations.
So...This experience playing Set with my son was fun for a few reasons: first off I realized again that experience is often a better teacher than verbal words and set lectures. Not always, but at least for me and other visual learners or tactile learners etc., this is generally the case.
Second, I was reminded that we most often learn the most as we teach other people… But generally that means when our approach employs the use of asking questions to help the learner identify for themselves patterns and principles.
Questions can be powerful both for the teacher and the learner to develop an eye for observation and of mind to wisely apply new found discoveries and knowledge.
It was fun reminding myself, or relearning, what the rules to the game are by helping my son play and asking questions so that he could allow his own eyes to be opened.