Series: Focus on Play

Quantity Cards for Subitizing

Quantity Cards for Subitizing

Quantity is a particular amount of something, expressed as a number. Our playing cards represent numbers, not with written numerals, but with visual models of the quantities. Children can see how many with these subitizing cards.

Subitizing is the ability to instantly recognize small quantities, without counting. The first stage of subitizing is perceptual subitizing. We see a small set such as 3 fingers simultaneously and “just know” that it is three. This ability is innate to human cognition and does not require learning other mathematical processes such as counting. The second stage of subitizing is conceptual subitizing when we see small quantities within larger quantities and use number relationships to perceive the whole. For example, 7 on a ten frame can be seen as five and two simultaneously. The whole is instantly recognized as a composite of its parts.

Our subitizing cards for young children use the visual models of traditional dots, but also include finger patterns, lines, and 5- or 10- frames. There are a variety of pictures or “suits,” since matching quantities such as fingers and dots can help develop ideas about equivalence. Experience recognizing how amounts that look different can be equivalent helps children abstract, for instance, the “four-ness” of four when playing card games.

quantity cards quantity definition

1-5 in Six Suits

These subtizing cards use dots, 5-frames, lines, and fingers for the quantities 1-5. Use this deck of cards for younger children and to emphasize perceptual subitizing, the ability to tell the number of objects in a set quickly, without counting.


math card games using quantity definition

1-10 in Four Suits

These subitizing cards use different sets for the quantities 1-10, starting with a traditional dot arrangements and then also using lines, ten-frames, and hands. Use this deck of cards for older children and to emphasize conceptual subitizing, when children see small quantities within larger quantities and use number relationships to perceive the whole.


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