I'm Bon Crowder and the photos above are both of me - in 1989 and today. I'm a Generation X mom of Generation Z kids.

I began peer tutoring in high school in 1984. MathFour.com is the 2015 version of me helping peers be comfortable in math.

If you're a Gen-X parent, you're in the right place!

Tag Archives: subitize

Math Picture Book: The Grapes of Math

When I stumbled upon the math picture book, The Grapes of Math by Greg Tang and Harry Briggs, I was more than a little impressed.

This book has three great elements:

The images are colorful and fun!

The first thing you see in this math picture book are the bright but simple images. Looking at them you feel like you’ve stepped into the surreal world of those old View-Master reels.

The rhymes are catchy and cute!

I’m all about iambic pentameter. Well, I really don’t know exactly what that is, but it sounds like it means bouncy poetry.

And that’s what this math picture book has!

While scallops on the beach look great,
I’d rather see them on my plate.

Unfortunately it’s their loss,
They swim their best in butter sauce.

Oh, but the counting’s even better!

Each page has objects (fruit, bugs, dice, etc.) spread out so that children can experiment with different ways to “see” how many there are. You can subitize, group, multiply, subtract – or do them all!

The answer key in the back helps you understand the intent of the authors.

But I recommend you try various ways yourself before turning to the back. Some of their methods were very different than what I came up with.

And you can try it at home!

There are 16 different pictures and riddles to practice on. But it doesn’t have to stop there.

You can do your own playing at home. Check out the grapes I did here:

How will you use the math picture book, The Grapes of Math?

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4 Responses to How to Teach Subitizing: 1 – 4

  1. Hi Bon,
    I got into a discussion at school yesterday about subitizing and remembered reading about it on your blog. I searched and read all of the posts and just printed/laminated your cards. Thanks!

  2. I have a daughter who cannot subitize. She is dyscalculic. She has no basic number sense. She cannot memorize any basic math fact. Related to this, she has no sense of the passage of time and no sense of past and future and no real sense of money, even though she can add money together using her fingers or paper and pencil. The total she added means nothing to her.

    In doing extensive research in this area, I have read many research papers on dyscalculia and subitizing. The scientific community, based on extensive brain scans and other studies, seems to feel now that subitizing is something most human beings (and many animal species) do automatically, probably from birth, and that this skill develops further over time. Research is showing that explicit teaching of subitizing can help anyone and quite a bit, but most already have this ability at a basic level and tend to advance in this skill without explicit instruction.

    There is a small percentage of the population that does not have the ability to subitize. These children end up struggling tremendously in school and frequently as adults because this basic function is what allows us to do simple arithmetic without counting on our fingers, “memorize” times tables, process elapsed time, understand calendars and the passage of time, handle finances etc. There is a book called My Thirteenth Winter, written by a girl who has dyscalculia. She cannot subitize. If you have a student or a child who, no matter how hard they try, cannot memorize addition, multiplication or subtraction facts, or seems to struggle with time, or the concept of money, read this book to understand how debilitating this issue really can be.

    We are just starting to do systematic subitizing exercises with my 7th grade daughter, after years of tears and frustration because of an inability to function in simple math efficiently, yet the cognitive ability to understand many more advanced math concepts (that function using a different part of the brain than the area that subitizes).

    Your info here is also helpful. Thank you.

    Wish us luck!

    • Wow, JC! Thanks for the info. What power you, and she, now have knowing what’s going on.

      Please keep us informed – and indeed, GOOD LUCK!

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4 Responses to Toddlers Begin Counting at the Number 2 (not 1)

  1. Great insight, Bon…My daughter is about a year old and quick as a whip. I’ve wondered about numbers…and how to introduce simple concepts.

    • Thanks for stopping by Susie – do let me know how this works for your daughter. I’m fascinated by how their little minds work at this age!

  2. My daughter is 29 months old. She know her colors, shapes, letters, and numbers. SHe has known these for some time now I am just trying to figure out how to challenge her. Simple “what color is this?” isn’t cutting it anymore. Now she knows her number and counts to ten. But actually knowing there are” 3 lollipops” isn’t there. I taught at a preschool and know that fun is learning and learning is fun which is why I am having such a hard time trying to teach my daughter the “value” of a number while keeping it fun and age-appropriate. Would love suggestions/comments

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2 Responses to Why Learning to Subitize Is Important

  1. I remember subitizing as a little girl because I got mixed up chanting to count, or lost my place. But I could see triangles, quadrilaterals, and groups of doubles, so I’d make shapes, then add them up.

    I think it just happened during block play when my Mom needed me out of her hair while she made dinner.

    Why I felt I needed to count my blocks I’m not sure though; maybe I was imitating counting books or Seasame street?

    • That’s really neat Christine. I wonder if there’s research on shape seeing – there’s most definitely some better, fancier word! I’ve never been good at “getting” spacial stuff but I know others (my dad) who are very good at it. Are you good with spacial stuff – like being able to “see” things in 3D when they are just drawn or you only see one part of them?

      And I’m sure Sesame street had a lot to do with all of our desires to count. What a great show!

      Thanks for your comments, Christine!

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One Response to What is Subitizing?

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