What is Subitizing for Preschoolers?

What is Subitizing?

For preschoolers, subitizing is the ability to see a small number of objects and, without counting, instantly know how many objects there are. Okay, you’re questioning whether a preschooler can grasp this concept – I get it. But for years most of the 3-5 year-olds I’ve taught have been able to catch on to the concept of subitizing after consistent practice. 

Why Teach Preschoolers Subitizing?

Subitizing is a number sense and number arrangement skill which will greatly assist kids later in school when they’re learning addition, subtraction, and multiplication. Knowing how to subtilize makes the process of addition and subtraction quicker by not having to count. The ability to recognize the number of objects that appear in sets without having to count speeds up the understanding and process of multiplication.

How To Teach Subitizing –

Playing games with dice is a great way to practice subitizing – kids won’t even know they’re learning a sophisticated math skill! Group crackers or grapes into sets – count sets for a time and then start asking “how many,” without counting. 

Subitizing Snack!  

One of my favorite ways to teach subitizing is to use whatever you’re having for snack. Let’s say it’s apple slices and crackers – sort into two groups and ask, “How many?” for both groups of snack. And, as a bonus, you’re practicing sorting skills with your preschooler all while just sharing a snack together! 


The Importance of Preschool Math

Why is it important to teach math to preschoolers? Math concepts spill over into every area of preschool learning. Kids who have learned basic math concepts by the time they reach Kindergarten are better able to understand abstract thought using concrete, real-world concepts. Let’s look at specific areas of learning how math concepts help your preschooler. 

Get That Brain Working

Learning math concepts is a step-by-step process that develops logical and abstract thinking. Preschoolers apply both logical thought and abstract thinking when they’re learning how to write letters and numbers. That logical and abstract thinking also allows young kids to analyze what’s around them and ask questions to gain knowledge about the world.

Math in Play Connection

A benefit of learning step-by-step math process is teaching young children to think in an organized, systematic way. This way of thinking spills over into day-to-day dramatic play. Let’s say your preschooler is using their imagination to be a baker in their own bakery. Remembering back to helping you bake at home and knowing how buying and selling works from visiting a bakery or a grocery store, kids will use an organized, systematic approach to making their baked goods and selling them to you! Thinking in an organized, systematic way can help your preschooler to get their toys put away in the right places, too!


Where’s the math connection to science? One of the building blocks of science is classifying and grouping together objects that have different attributes. Preschoolers learn these concepts through sorting objects around them. Sorting objects is a building block of algebra.

Raise a Reader with Math

Math vocabulary and knowledge also helps with reading comprehension because kids are developing a language bank to call upon when they’re learning to read. Words will make sense when they’re reading, and kids can picture a mental image of what they’re reading.

A Math Bonus is Geometry

One last contribution of math – a building block of both geometry and physics is learning shapes. Could there be a future architect or artist in your family?