Friday, April 26, 2013


Do your kiddos have problems paying attention to details?  Mine sure do!  So, I'm in the process of tricking them into paying attention with a super nerdy math logic game called SET!  

SET is a game of attributes.  Each card has 4 different attributes: number, color, shape and fill.  A card can have 1, 2, or 3 shapes.  The shape is either a RHOMBUS, an OVAL, or a SQUIGGLE.  Each shape can be RED, PURPLE, or GREEN.  And each color can be SOLID, LINED, or OPEN fill. 
The object of the game is to create a SET.  The difficult part is actually making the SET! A SET is a grouping of 3 cards that either have all the cards the SAME within a given attribute or all the cards DIFFERENT within a given attribute.  The kicker is you have to take into account ALL 4 attributes at the same time.  A great rule to remember - if two of the cards share an attribute, but not all three, then it is NOT a set. 
The card game starts by laying out 9 cards (I use 12 when my kiddos are first learning)  Within 9 cards there is almost always a set, but with 12 it is almost guaranteed to have one which makes it easier for them to spot in the early game.

Whenever a kiddo chooses a SET I make them explain their reasoning, whether the cards the cards are a SET or not.  This helps them work through the details more in their head.  Also, I tell them right away, the more you play this game the better you get.  

Let's look at a few cards my kiddos chose to determine if they are a set or not (this will help you too!)
Attributes:  All 3, All Green, All Different Shapes
BUT  two are solid, and one is lined.
Verdict- NOT a set!
How about this one....
Attributes:  All Different numbers, All Green, All Different Shapes,
BUT, again, two solid, one lined.
Verdict - NOT a set!
Is the third time a charm?
Attributes:  All Different numbers, All Green, All Different Shapes,
All Different fills.
Verdict: Set!
Getting it yet?  Like I said earlier, the more you play the more you start to "see" the SETS.

SET:  same number, different colors, same shape, same fill
SET: different numbers, same color, different shapes, same fill
SET: same number, different color, same shape, different fill
Sometimes you get a board like this.... So I asked my kiddos, what can you tell me about this board?  They told me it was a lot of red.  After more questioning, they realized there wasn't any green.  We chatted some more about what this would mean for a set.  They discussed multiple ideas but concluded that any set they found on this board would have to be the SAME in the color attribute. 
Sometimes you can't find a SET in the cards, so you add 3 more cards.  I have never added 3 more cards and NOT found a set almost instantly.  Can you find any sets in the above 15 cards?  I see at least 3!  (the top middle card is a purple, open rhombus - it's hard to see the color in the pic).

As I was playing this game with my kiddos, I started to come up with ways to help them "see" the SETS.  Sometimes I would pick two cards out of the group of 12 (I already could see these were part of a set on the table) and ask them to find the missing set piece.  Once they got really good at this, I would hand them only one card and ask them to make a set around it.

I could see playing this game with much younger kids and changing the rules a but.  Maybe they only need to have 2 attributes in common - number and color; or maybe color and fill.  You can always work your way up to the full game.  I decided just to jump right in with my kiddos.  It was actually quite amazing to sit back and watch who could just "see" the attributes popping out at them - most of the time it was NOT the students I expected it to be.  

My kiddos currently ask to play this daily.  It's super awesome and they are getting really good at it.  The best part is watching them teach each other how to play.  I've also introduced them to the online version, so now they play at home!  

Want to check out more but don't own the cards?  Check out
purchase the cards here on Amazon!  AND.... well, because everyone likes something FREE here is a little something I came up with to 1) hold your kids accountable at a center and 2) help with writing out their justification and get them ready for proof!  I'm leaving it pretty generic so that it can be used at an grade level with any set of rules you choose to use with your kiddos!  ENJOY!

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  1. What an awesome game - looks great! Thanks for sharing!

    Joy in the Journey

  2. This is a great idea. We play set with my family, and it can be quite challenging at times. I agree that it will help to add the extra 3 cards. It is a super way to develop the skill of looking for details. Thanks for sharing.

    Charlene/Diamond Mom

  3. I love games like this where students practice the underlying thinking strategy behind many academic skills. I see this skill as having a lot of curricular connections: sorting shapes by looking at several attributes (a challenging skill for 4th and 5th graders with the new Common Core standards) and decoding and comprehending at the same time. This is also a great activity as the year winds down to keep students thinking and growing.


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