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Subitizing in Preschool

Subitizing sounds intimidating, but you may already be teaching it to your littles.

Keep reading for subitizing activities for preschoolers.

Subitizing in Preschool

This article may contain affiliate links to products that may help you when homeschooling preschool.

What is Subitizing?

Subitizing is being able to recognize the number of items instantly without counting them.

Think about when a dice is rolled.

By looking at the dice, you can identify the number without counting.

That is subitizing!

Subitizing in Preschool

This article may contain affiliate links to products that may help you when homeschooling preschool.

Why is it Important to Teach in Preschool?

Subitizing isn’t only useful when it comes to identifying numbers on a dice.

When kids learn to subitize, they are learning that numbers represent items.

But why is that important?

Subitizing is one of the foundational skills that other math concepts (like adding, subtracting, etc.) will build on.

Addition becomes easier once preschoolers know that the number three means three items.

Subitizing in Preschool

Activities and Ideas for Teaching Subitizing

Start with Few Numbers

Overwhelming your preschooler when teaching subitizing can happen easily.

Start with numbers 1-3.

Add in more numbers as the preschooler gets the hang of subitizing.

Use Different Images

Avoid only using one kind of number to subitize.

Incorporate pictures of hands with fingers up (one hand would have two fingers up, and the other would have three fingers up), tally markers, and dots.

Subitizing in Preschool

Say “What is the Number” not “Count”

When you ask kids to count, you are looking for 1 to 1 correspondence.

This is NOT what subitizing is.
Subitizing is being able to look and say the number without counting.

Phrasing is important to help your little one become successful with subitizing.

Limite the Time

Show the item (or image) quickly, about 2-3 seconds.

Allowing your little one to see the items too long can easily turn into counting instead of subitizing.

Subitizing in Preschool

Dice Play

Roll a die (one dice) and have your preschooler say what number it lands on.

Have your little one jump that many times or dot a piece of paper with a dot marker to show the number they rolled.


Lay dominoes face down.

Take turns flipping the dominoes over and saying how many dots are on each end.

If your preschooler is ready, match up the ends of the same number of dominoes (three dots would be placed touching another domino with three dots).

Subitizing in Preschool

Sticky Note Swatter

Draw large dots, tally markers, or hands on the sticky notes.

Place them on the wall or the floor.

Using a fly swatter, call out a number and have the preschooler swat the post-it note that has that many dots on it.

Subitize with Clothespins

Reuse the sticky notes from the activity above (or make more) and turn it into a new activity by adding clothes pins.

On the end of the clothes pins, write numbers matching the cards you use.

Have your preschooler clip the clothespin onto the sticky note that matches the number.

For example, the clothespin with 4 written on it would be clipped on the sticky note with four tally marks.

This is a great fine motor activity, too!

Subitizing in Preschool

Subitizing for Preschoolers

Help to encourage a strong foundation in math by teaching preschoolers to subitize.

With these ideas and tips, you are set to start subitizing with your preschooler in fun and engaging ways.

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