Teaching a Six Year Old About Triples

I’ve written in the past about how both of my kids are star wars geeks thanks to Lego Star Wars. My son had a Star Wars Annual for Christmas which he’s been poring over, in that obsessive way that young boys do. Anyway, we got to talking about some of the relationships between the different characters: that Luke was Anakin’s son; that Anakin and Vader are the same person; etc. We went back and forth a bit as he was getting confused by some of the secret identities and the overall timeline (he’s not seen all of the films of course; he’s only six).
I suggested to him that we try drawing it out. I thought that this might help him get a better mental picture. I explained to him that we could try writing down the characters names and start drawing lines between them to illustrate the relationships.
He got it straight away.
Here’s what we came up with after about half an hours work. Click through to see the larger image:

We started out in the bottom left with Luke, drawing an arc from him to Anakin. I suggested he label the line with “dad” to describe the relationship.
He then decided we should move on to Anakin and capture a fact about him next. We discussed this a bit, in particular, what would be a good name for the label between Anakin and Vader. He settled on “became”. We then recorded a further fact, that Darth Sidious “trained” Vader.
So far so good. He easily grasped the simple pattern of “X relates to Y” and also grokked a number of other things quite quickly. Firstly he reused “became” to record that Palpatine was also Darth Sidious, he saw that it was basically the same relationship. Secondly, he pointed out to me that “Anakin became Darth Vader” is actually a sentence. He also noted that my original suggestion of “Luke dad Vader” didn’t read very well! Finally he also saw that the technique was quite general: he observed that we could also capture facts about which weapons each of the characters used.
We also recorded a relationship between Luke and Vader: “fights”. After we’d drawn this out I pointed out to him that if Luke fights Vader, Vader is actually Anakin, and Anakin is Luke’s dad, then Luke must have been fighting his dad. This was the source of much hilarity. But he was easily able to see how this made sense from his drawing.
We rounded off the drawing with a few facts about the droids, which are a particular favourite of his.
I found the whole exercise quite interesting as it seemed to be a good way to lay out some facts in a way that was both amenable for teaching, but was also fun. I certainly didn’t force him into doing it. And a bit of father and son time never hurts.
Really its a testament to the simplicity at the heart of the RDF model, the simple triple, that it can be understood by a six year old.
(No, this isn’t an April Fool)