Tag Archives: subitizing

Place Value in Primary: Developing Number Sense

Place Value in PrimaryWow. I have had the most extraordinary summer. Truly extraordinary. And somehow between engaging in a series of remarkable, life-affirming adventures ¬†I have managed to write another teacher resource book… ūüėä

It’s all about Place Value (as I’m sure you’ve figured out!) and is intended for teachers of kindergarten through grade 2, with special accommodations for¬†those who teach in combined grades settings. ¬†There are 230 pages of developmentally framed lessons designed to address the diversity in our primary classrooms. Each one supports¬†students to represent and describe quantity, to compare and order sets, to use referents to estimate and to skip count. Lessons devoted to measurement — an ideal practical application of¬†place value in the world — are also¬†featured. Whole class lessons, centres tasks and games ¬†for practice allow students to connect these important concepts in a seamless way, and can be used both as a unit or¬†spread throughout the year to build and consolidate understanding.

Place Value in Primary: Developing Number Sense is available from my online store for $40 plus shipping. I hope you enjoy it!


(PS…¬†A companion volume for Grades 2 to 4 is in the works – expect it later this fall!)


Find It! A Subitizing Game

Good morning!

In Kindergarten and Grade 1, students need practice subitizing. ¬†That is, being able to recognize at a glance and name familiar arrangements of objects without counting. ¬†It’s an important precursor to estimation, skip counting and multiplication, and depends on students’ understandings of conservation — that 5 is 5, no matter how it is arranged.

find it game partners exampleIn this simple partner game, students roll a standard die and then find a cell with the same number of dots. They cover the dots with a counter in their colour and then give their partner a turn. Three in a row in a single colour wins the game.

Small groups or even the whole class can play the Bingo version of this game.¬†Each student needs a bingo card and a small handful of counters in a single colour. Have the “caller” roll a die and call out the number to be covered. ¬†As in traditional Bingo, three in a line (across, down or diagonal) wins the round.

Click on the links below to download the partner game and/or the Bingo version of this game.



Find it – Add and Count for K&1

Find It Bingo forms 3by3

Falling Leaves… Matching numerals to sets for kindergarten

Hello all…

I thought I’d post an autumn-themed game on the blog this week for my colleagues in kindergarten. ¬†The game is called¬†Falling Leaves, and it’s based on a game from the BEAM website. ¬†In my version of the game, students start with 15 unifix or stacking cubes in their own colour. ¬†To begin, Player 1 rolls a regular 6-sided die and puts a cube on the leaf with that numeral. Then Player 2 has a turn. If there is already a cube in that leaf, students stack their cube on top of the one that’s there, to make a tower.

At the end of the game (when all of the cubes are used up), players scan to see which of the towers has their colour on the top.  Those towers are collected and snapped together.  The player with the tallest tower wins!

In this game, pink is playing green. Green collects all the towers with green on top.  Pink collects all of the towers with pink on top.


Stacked together, it’s clear to see that pink wins!

Enjoy…¬†And happy fall!


Falling leaves


Representing number in many ways…

Hello all!


I wanted to follow up with my colleagues who attended the k and k/1 sessions in Langley on Friday. I showed some materials that I then promised to upload to the blog – and then promptly forgot! ¬†Here are the files… ¬†ūüôā


For those of you who were not in attendance, the idea is simple.  Young children need the opportunity to represent number in many ways to truly make sense of it.  Our youngest learners need more than most to make sense of the squiggles we call digits by building, comparing, partitioning and learning to subitize amounts to five Рand then from 5 through ten. Consider these cards, images and frames for representing number as part of your opening activities, a centre or as meaningful practice following on from a lesson.  Students love the chance to roll a die and say how many Рand then to build and record what happened!  The files are below Рand are included in French as well.


Number 3 Ways to 5 – English

Number 3 Ways to 10 – English

Number 3 Ways to 5 – French

Number 3 Ways to 10 – French


PS – Use the “finger cards” to create sets that make five like in the Room on the Broom task, below. ¬†Copy the cards, cut them out and then distribute them in pairs so that you know that every child in the room will be able to find their missing part (ie, be sire to hand out a 2 and a 3, a 4 and a 1, and a 5 and a zero…). ¬†You might consider NOT using the 5 and zero pairing – seems sort of unkind to leave a child with nothing in front of them!!



Missing Part Cards – Laying the Foundation for Subtraction

Hello all!

I had the pleasure of working with K and K/1 teachers in Mission on Monday – a great group of teachers who somehow managed to summon up the energy to attend an after-school workshop with me this week!! ¬†Together we looked at ways to support their young students in subitizing and partitioning. ¬†Sounds complex, doesn’t it? ¬†ūüôā ¬†Truth is, children in early primary need opportunities to see numbers at a glance without counting (subtizing) and to recognize that we can break up sets and put them back together again and the set size is the same (partitioning). These concepts and skills are critically important for young children to develop – they underpin the ability to add and subtract, to multiply and divide…

Engaging young children in conversations about how they “see” sets of number is a great way to start. Present an arrangement of 5-8 objects in your daily opening activities, and ask children what they see and how they see it. ¬†Talk about the parts and label these smaller sets with numerals to make sense of the digits. Celebrate the fact that, no matter how you slice it, 7 is still 7!

Over time, you might want to make connections to the operations by using the attached “Missing Part Cards”. They include a numeral to indicate the set size, and then dots in familiar arrangements in the form of an equation. ¬†The important part of course is to¬†cover up just one of the sets of dots¬†before showing the missing part cards to the children! ¬†ūüôā A 6.5 cm x 6.5 cm square of thick paper (bond paper or construction paper – or even sticky notes doubled up) taped across the top creates a flap that will hide one of the parts from view, as indicated below.

Show the card and read it aloud with the children:

“Seven¬†is the same as¬†4¬†and…?”

It’s a good idea to say “is the same as” and “and” for “equals” and “plus” here. ¬†“Equals” and “plus” are the¬†names for the symbols¬†and are less meaningful to learners than “is the same as” and “and” – which are words that describe what the symbols mean…

Have students say what they think is missing, and¬†why they think so. ¬†You’ll be surprised at the strategies students will use to find the missing part! ¬†Older learners will benefit from seeing the equation written with a box to indicate the missing part – that is,

This is a great way to introduce algebraic thinking in a visual way!!

Feel free to download the Missing Part Cards for 5, Missing Part Cards for 6 and Missing Part Cards for 7 here.  They are best printed in colour of course, and will hold up best if printed on card stock or bond paper. Credit for the idea goes to John Van de Walle, who first showed them to me years ago.  A smart man, our John Рand one I miss terribly.



PS – If you’re looking for more ideas like this for K and grade 1, consider purchasing a copy of my book:¬†Number Sense – A Combined Grades Resource for K, K/1 and Grade 1 Math Classrooms. ¬†It’s set up to support teachers in addressing the number PLOs in mindful ways while keeping their Kindergarten and Grade 1 students together. Games, tasks, problems and meaningful practice opportunities are included in English and in French. To order online, click here.


Dot patterns and ten frames – Around the World for K/1/2

I thought I would post a copy of a game that I created (which I KNOW someone else out there has likely done before me!) to support young children in recognizing sets of number at a a glance. ¬†We all know how important this skill is in promoting number sense in young learners! ¬†In this game called “I have… Who Has…?” for grades 1 and 2, students start with a card (or more than one, if there are enough cards to go around!). Choose any child you like to begin the cycle. ¬†She reads from her card, from left to right, saying the number represented in the picture (“I have 14.”)¬†and then asking the question (“Who has seven?”). ¬†Students listen for their number, then ask their question until all students have had a chance to read. ¬†The game is over when the first person to read, reads again. Be sure and hand out ALL the cards, or the cycle won’t work… ūüôā

I have created a Kindergarten version of the “I have… Who has…?” game as well. The numbers go only to 10, and there are picture of fingers to help them “read” the number word. A small group – or partners – works best for this one, since there are only ten cards!

Have fun with this!

(And for my friends in Coquitlam who witnessed the spectacular initial fail of this game, rest assured that I’ve fixed it!)