While watching the tutorials on lynda.com I found the section building shapes to be the most helpful for creating this assignment. The tutorials discuss the aspects of the shape builder tool and how it disregards the "trial and error" process incorporated with the pathfinder method.
The Shape Builder Tool was built to provide a more visual approach to shape building. For selection, the Command Key is used and the Option Key is used to remove areas/ subtraction mode. You have the capability with this tool to combined various shapes to create new ideas. The Shape Builder tool also allows you to color the shapes after creation. Another cool aspect of this tool is the Gap Detection..which can connect or combined objects even if they don’t touch each other.