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Tagged as: Subitizing

Subitize: The Ability to "See" Small Amounts

All children are born with an innate ability to perceive the difference between 1 and 2 objects. With support and experience, they can quickly perceive and name “how many” for collections of 3, 4, and 5 objects. This mathematical ability is called subitizing. Here is a subitize definition: from the Latin word meaning suddenly, the term subitize refers to the ability to "see" a small amount of objects and know “how many” there are instantly without counting.

Not all arrangements of the same number are equally easy to subitize — preschoolers will recognize that there are 5 dots quickly if they are arranged like the corners of a square with a dot in the middle, but may be slower or less sure if the 5 dots are in a straight line, particularly if they are very close together. Understanding what it means to subitize definition and all is a good start, but more fully understanding how it works in the mind of young children means exploration of the concept.

While it’s important that adults get to hear children count out loud, it’s also important that they acknowledge when children correctly identify a small amount without counting it at all.

The above are excerpts from the Collaborative's book Big Ideas of Early Mathematics: What Teachers of Young Children Need to Know (2014).

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