This article describes an approach to learning chemical concepts that uses simple rules and pattern recognition to make the formulas of the oxides and hydrides of selected elements in the periodic table. The concepts that emerge from these exercises include: (i) how and why we write formulas as we do; (ii) the greatest and smallest values for oxidation numbers for important elements; (iii) the electronegativity scale; (iv) the acidic or basic characteristics of oxides depending on the formula and its location in the periodic table. This method involves a step-by-step progression in the student's ability to write formulas and balance equations without requiring a previous knowledge of chemical species or charge. Exceptions discovered in obtaining patterns are used to develop additional concepts as well as to discover regions of the table in which exceptions may be expected. This approach stresses finding commonalities rather than differences. This approach contrasts to current ways of presenting foundational materials in which, subject material is presented without regard to a rational development and in which exceptions abound. The current approach, in the author's opinion, sets the student on the path of learning chemistry bit by bit instead of in a holistic fashion.