Many years ago we had a friend who was one of the senior math teachers in the local school. She loved the idea of homeschooling and was very helpful with ideas and resources, and encouraged us in looking at math beyond the workbook. One of the things she taught us was Subitizing.
You may well ask: What is subitizing? I certainly did when she told us how important it was to math thinking.
Subitising is recognising a collection (of dots, coins, toys, books etc) without actually counting. You and I are very familiar with this skill – think recognising a dice – and yet it is a skill that can be taught and practiced.
My friend encouraged me to make cards with dots arranged in different amounts (up to 10) and patterns, starting off with the same arrangement you find on dice, and then mixing it up to different patterns up to 10 dots. We then just flip the card to the student, giving them time to recollect how many they see. As they get better we start to flash the card so that it is a quick response. Not only are they quickly recognizing collections, but they start to see how numbers are built, for example: five is made of 4+1, 2+3, 5+0 etc. This will then help them play (work) with number in their head as they grow into larger numbers.
We made our subitizing cards using sticky dots and blank cards (which you can buy from education suppliers) or you can print off a chart from online onto thick card and cut into individual cards. Teach Math has a list of different resources you can make to encourage this math skill. Subitizing
This has always been seen as a game in our house – it is fun and the kids like to see themselves improve; there is always so much laughter when you flash a card that has one dot! They reckon they know that one!!!
Pinterest also has a collection of subitizing ideas.