Subitizing is the ability to ‘see’ a small amount of objects and know how many there are without counting. Subitizing is what tells you what number you roll on a six sided dice – most adults no longer have to count the pips after playing board games for a while.

Subitizing is a fundamental skill in the development of students’ understanding of number (Baroody 1987, 115). Students use patterns recognized to discover properties and skills such as conservation, compensation, unitizing, counting on, composing and decomposing numbers, as well as understanding of arithmetic and place

The ability to subitize can be developed, and uses a student’s pattern recognition skills. Part part whole understanding is usually used to subitize numbers over four or five.
This means a student looking at this pattern doesn’t usually see 7, but instead 1 and 6, or maybe 2 and 5.
This is one of the reasons larger patterns shouldn’t be used until students are familiar with various representations of numbers 1 to 5. When two colours are used in patterns, they also draw attention to smaller anchors and make the parts more obvious.
Subitizing pattern
for 7


Dot PlatesA common tool is a set of dot patterns on paper plates – the dots can be easily made with a bingo dabber.  Since paper plates are round, they are held up in essentially a random orientation each time.  Two colours are used for advanced plates. Click the picture on the right for a pdf of suggested patterns from Elementary and Middle School Mathematics: Teaching Developmentally.

Dot Plate Questions / Activities

Dot plates are very effective when used for a few minutes of mental / oral math each day.  This file details questions and tools for using dot plates as part of your program.

Dot Cards

A set of dot cards useful for a variety of student activities.  This set contains 4 representations of the numbers 1 to 10, some with ten frames.


Dot Card Activities

A set of six basic games and activities (War, Trains, Number Sandwiches, Go Fish, Ten and Out) for the dot cards above.


Concentration Cards Beginner

This is a set of cards from Manitoba Education and Youth.  It includes four different representations of the numbers 1 to 6, and is suitable for playing concentration or other games in Kindergarten or grade 1.


Concentration Cards Advanced

This is a set of cards from Manitoba Education and Youth. It includes four different representations of the numbers 5 to 10, and is suitable for playing concentration or other games in grade 1 to 3.

Domino Activities

Dominoes can help develop the ability to recognize dot patterns. This is a set of games and activities that use dominoes. Double 9 dominoes are a little more versatile when students are ready.

Domino Flash Cards

These are large domino cards that can be used for subitizing. for numbers over 6, dominos have smaller anchors built into them due to the two halves. For this reason, these are valuable addition to subitizing activities.


  1. I think this is the best subitizing method(s) that I came across so far. Great place for kids to start and also advance the skill. Great job folks.

  2. Linda George says:

    I am thanking rathi gopinath (shishya) for introducing to me the concept of subitizing….Therefore I browsed and ended up wth this beautiful site.

  3. Thankyou for sharing so many valuable and solid resources!

  4. I’d like to find out more? I’d like to find out more details.

  5. Dave Finn says:

    Thanks heaps for your resources that i’ve used to help make up a powerpoint of a whole lots of ‘quick images’/subsetizing activities for my class 🙂
    Dave from Auckland, New Zealand.

  6. thank you

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  12. Jill Berry says:

    Please correct the grammar of the first sentence. “Subitizing is the ability to ‘see’ a small amount of objects”

    It should read “a small number of objects” since they can be counted.

    According to the Grammarist,
    “Amount is used in reference to mass nouns (i.e., uncountable nouns such as bravery, water, and charisma). Number is used in reference to count nouns (i.e., countable nouns such as dog, year, and eyeball).”

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