Subitizing is the ability to instantly recognize the number of objects in a group without counting them. There are two forms of subitizing.

Perceptual Subitizing: The ability to see a small number of objects in a group and instantly know how many there are without needing to count them. (i.e. knowing how many dots are on a die without counting them)

Conceptual Subitizing: The ability to pair and see sets of numbers within a larger group. (i.e. two sets of five make ten)

Note: Perceptual subitizing is developed before conceptual subitizing

Subitizing is the foundation to strong number sense, it helps a child build their relationship with numbers. In other words, subitizing helps a child understand that the numbers they see have a QUANTITY. It is also the foundation of recognizing patterns and noticing more than and less than. Subitizing helps with simple addition and subtraction, it saves time, and helps with higher level math later on.

A child who struggles with subitizing will likely struggle with more advanced math in higher grades, noticing patterns, noticing more than and less than, playing games that require dice, and more.

Caregivers can help build this skill in children by reading counting and number books, finger plays and songs where fingers are being counted up or down, exposing children to dice, and Dominos, playing number and object matching games and talking about number concepts during everyday routines. (i.e.” I have 3 pretzels, can you give me 2 more?” etc)

For more activities that help build a child’s subitizing skills, visit