We know the importance of subitizing in the the early elementary grades, but we can use subitizing in 3rd to 5th grade to help our students develop number sense around multiplication.
We know that students need concrete and representational experiences in order to develop number sense and make sense of what they are learning. But too often we jump straight to the abstract and wonder why our students don’t retain what they learn about multiplication facts.
I encourage you to use these subitizing cards in a number talk setting. Whether you do it as a whole class or small group, focus on flexible and strategic thinking.
How to use these cards in a number talk setting:
•Show students a card for 1-3 seconds (depending on card). Some teachers call this a “quick look.” Don’t show it for so long that students can count the objects. The idea here is to use multiplicative reasoning to figure out the number of objects.
•Ask students to raise a hand (or a thumb to chest as you might do with number talks) when they know how many objects are on the card. Allow enough thinking time for all students.
•Ask students to share.
•Show the card once again (leave it up this time) and talk about the answers/strategies that were shared.
•Encourage students to move from additive reasoning to multiplicative reasoning.
I've included FOUR different styles of subitizing cards:
- Ten Frames
- Dot Patterns inside Ten Frames
- Dice Patterns
For each style, representations are included for facts up to 10x10.
These are intended for printing rather than displaying on a screen. I've used some half pages and some full pages to make printing more efficient.
For more information about making connections using subitizing, please see my blog post and video here: