Math: What's Subitizing and How Can It Help Your Students With Number Sense?

Updated: Nov 29, 2019

Ever have a student who can't hold up the correct number of fingers without counting them or has to count one-to-one even when counting within 5? If they are beyond the beginnings of Kindergarten, this could be a sign that the student is struggling with some visual memory.

Subitizing is the ability to recognize a number without counting. There are two types: perceptual subitizing and conceptual subitizing. Perceptual subitizing is when students see a group of objects and can determine the number without counting. This could be using dot cards, a physical representation or even dominoes.

Conceptual subitizing is when students begin to see groups within a representation. This can help students count larger representations like 9, because they see a group of 4 and 5. It can even extend to students as they start developing the beginning concepts of multiplication and division.

Depending on your grade level, it's easy to help students develop this visual memory. Using dot cards, word form and digit cards for grades PreK-2nd Grade, help students to learn the different forms of the numbers by including them in every day activities. When playing a game, use a different form of the number, or even put the cards in a pencil box and have students match them up. Check out some of my ideas on the free resources listed below.

For students in 2nd Grade-6th Grade, use the multiplication subitizing cards to help students visualize the concept of equal groups. Students can list the groups they see or even say the multiplication fact. The goal is to get students away from counting one-by-one and more to using skip counting. Find out more ideas by using the free resources below.

Check out the free resources at the links below!

Want to see how these skills are developed in the progression of addition and subtraction or the progression of multiplication and division? Check out my e-courses where you can earn 6 hours of continuing education credit and learn how students develop concepts while getting over 200 pages of free resources that can be used in your classroom right now!

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