# Be Wise…Subitize!

Okay, I realize the title of this post is very corny, but it got your attention so I can talk about one of my favorite subjects–subitizing. My sister will say that’s Greek to her, so let me put it in simpler terms. When you instantly recognize a quantity without counting, you subitize. For example, if I roll the pair of dice shown here, I instantly recognize the 4 and the 2 without counting.

This is a foundational skill for students. Subitizing is not a new concept. According to Wikipdia the term was first used in 1949. But it seems that recently there’s lots of chatter about subitizing. I attended a professional development session put on by one of the fabulous presenters from Origo, and he listed subitizing as one of the six components of number sense. He went on to say that it was, by far, the MOST important!

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I was in the kindergarten classroom of an amazing teacher today. As her kiddos sat in a circle around her, she flashed cards with random dot patterns on them. The kids shouted out the number represented by the dots on each card. As if that weren’t fabulous enough, they went on to volunteer HOW they saw each number. Here’s what I mean. The figure below shows one of the patterns she flashed. Some kids said they saw 2 groups of 3, and they knew that was 6. Another child saw 2 groups of 2 on each side and another group of 2 in the middle. The student explained that 2 + 2 + 2 = 6. Yet another student saw 3 groups of 2, but he saw 2 on the top, 2 in the middle, and 2 on the bottom. How cool is that?

John Van de Walle talks about subitizing in his book Teaching Student-Centered Mathematics: Grades K-3. Older editions of the book provided blackline masters of dot patterns that could be used exactly like I saw being done today. I enlarged some of Van de Walle’s cards so they would be easier to use. You will find the link to download them for free at the end of this post!

Thanks for making it to the end of this long post! And now a little reward for sticking with me. I would love for you to follow my blog and visit my TPT store and follow me there as well. If you do that, send me an email, and I will email you either my Numbers to 20 posters or a set of my Operations posters for FREE! Let me know in the email which freebie you want.

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## Similar Posts

1. I’m your newest follower. Loving your blog. And you’re not the only one…I love to subitize!!! ๐

Cindy @ love2learn2day

1. Donna Boucher says:

Are there really people who DON’T love to subitize? Ha ha!

2. Tammy says:

I would love the Numbers to 20 poster. I love following you as a parent of a kindergartener and a third grade teacher.

2. This is another post of yours that I am in total agreement with. Love you blog and ideas!

1. Donna Boucher says:

Thanks so much! I LOVE subitizing!

3. jenneuse says:

I think I learned to subitize by playing jacks. Getting your fivesies doesn’t allow time for counting!

1. Donna Boucher says:

Oh my! That’s a blast from the past. Do kids still play jacks?

1. Jennifer says:

I bought a jacks set at the dollar store.

4. Anonymous says:

I am a grade chairman for first grade teachers. I do think subitizing is very important. I love that a math coach will help us! I have been busy creating worksheets and resources for the teachers that I work with. How lucky we are that so many wonderful resources are available. Thanks

1. Donna Boucher says:

Absolutely! How did we used to teach without Pinterest, blogs, and the Internet? Ha ha.

5. Anonymous says:

Kathy RIchardson has some terrific activites & number talks which involve dot cards. She is my hero when teaching math to the young ones. Math Perspectives & Math Their Way are still the basics compared to any textbook series.

1. Donna Boucher says:

Right! I SO want to go to her Institute for Math Leaders next summer. ๐

6. Deana says:

Just finished four days of CGI training so I am a new fan of subitizing:-) Luuuuuuv that word!
Deana

1. Donna Boucher says:

I know! It’s fun word, right? And the kiddos love doing it!

7. Melissa says:

I am a follower of your blog and your tpt store. Thanks for all the helpful resources! If you’re still offering, I would love a copy of the 1-20 posters. My email is mroyer@wcpss.net

Melissa Royer

8. Melissa says:

I’m sorry! I just emailed you. Thanks!

9. Roxanne Sterling says:

Hi Donna,

Just came across this post. I am a follower of your blog post. Thanks for the really great Maths resources. I would love a copy of the Numbers 1 – 20 posters. My email is foxysexyroxy10@yahoo.com.

Take care and God bless,
Roxanne

1. Donna Boucher says:

Sent! Let me know if you didn’t get it! ๐

1. Donna Boucher says:

Just sent it! Sorry I took so long. ๐

10. Terri B says:

I love the posters for Subitizing. I am going to work with Kinders for the first time next year – would love that poster!
terria310@aol.com

Am a follower of your TPT, blog and facebook pages! Love everything you have!!!

1. Donna Boucher says:

Sending… ๐

11. alwayslearning says:

I love your blog and all of your posts on subitizing! I would love your numbers to 20 posters:)
Holly
bearcom1000@msn.com

1. Donna Boucher says:

Just emailed to make sure I sent this! ๐

12. Jane says:

Thanks for the great posts! I am now a follower of your blog & your TPT store. I would love to receive the Numbers to 20 posters if you are still offering the freebie. farmerz@mts.net Thanks ๐

1. Donna Boucher says:

Just sent it! ๐

13. trillium300 says:

I like your Numbers to 20 poster. I teach in a self-contained ESE K-2 classroom and have been looking for a poster that has all the ways numbers can be represented included in your poster.

Thanks

1. Donna Boucher says:

Did you email me??

14. Lorena Beal says:

Thanks so much! Could you email me the numbers to 20 posters? Thanks!

1. Donna Boucher says:

Sure! Use the link in the post to email me so I’ll know the email address to send your posters to. ๐

15. Anonymous says:

Great Blog – we are incorporating all these ideas with our struggling learners. Would love a copy of the poster- my email is megoa@msn.com
Thank You!

16. Melissa Ryan says:

This comment has been removed by the author.

17. Melissa Ryan says:

Love your blog…can never have too many math ideas!!! I’d love to have a copy of your 1-20 posters. My email is ryanma@puyallup.k12.was.us. thanks!!

18. Katherine Brown says:

I also love to subitize! When a new 1st grader, who is legally blind, moved to our school in March, I brainstormed to find a way to subitize him. I found free PowerPoint presentations for subitizing online. I increased the size of the picture on each slide by 100%. Sitting with him at a desk top computer, his assistant clicked the mouse at the appropriate speed for him (which was too much time for my other students). After I saw how much more efficient it was to subitize from the ppt compared to handling cards, I projected it onto the screen for the large group! I’ll still use my cards for those few odd moments that happen outside of the classroom, but I’m spoiled now by the ppt !

1. Donna Boucher says:

What a great story, Katherine! Thanks so much for sharing. ๐

19. David says:

Donna,

I worked with a student a few years ago who could not subitize. He described the dots on the dice as swimming and had to count them carefully with his finger every single time. I wonder how often kids are in this situation and what can be done about it?

David

20. kathy foor says:

Love your math coach corner’s blog/ Please send me a copy of the Numbers to 20 poster.

21. Stacey Marsh says:

I recently bought your cards on TPT and decided to check out your blog to help understand the concept of subitizing further. It was extremely helpful. Thank you.

22. Charles says:

I don’t think learning to recognize patterns on dice or dominoes is the same thing as subitizing. Take the pips off the six and scatter them on the table and it is way, way more difficult to instantly recognize the total as six.

1. Donna Boucher says:

I agree that an unorganized group of objects is much more difficult to subitize than an organized one, but organized patterns, such as dominoes, ten-frames, and even finger-patterns, are subitizing.

23. KRISTINE MALETTA says:

Hi! Could you possibly send your numbers poster to me? It is exactly what I am looking for!

24. Jenn says:

Learning more and more about the importance of subitizing! I would love to receive the poster!! Thank you!!