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More Subtilizing

And more subitizing

1st Grade Math

Subitizing, Slavonic Abacus, counting, beginning number sense (3+ min)


The Slavonic Abacus (pictured above),  is made in coloured groups of 5 because it is easy for our brains to subitize.


What is an attribute?

Hint – when we play 20 questions – we use attributes

Some attributes are qualitative (ex. blonde hair) and some are quantities (ex. number of students with glasses)

Sorting, classifying, ordering/seriating and patterning:


Involves in grouping elements into a set according to the presence or absence; relative condition; number; or degree of some attribute (nominal, ordinal, cardinal, interval, ratio):

a) books – How might you sort/classify books? By genre, alphabetically by author etc…

b) people – How do you organize people? By size, language, nationality etc…

c) animals – What groups can you think of? mammals, reptiles, amphibians,


  • Focusing on one attribute (does it have to be quantitative?) that each ‘object’ may have and then ordering objects
  • Start with two objects: which is bigger, which is longer, which is heavier? Then move to larger sets.
  • Gradually increase variability of attributes in objects and number of objects (5 objects that have two distinct attributes are easier order than 9 objects with many attributes).

    Big Idea: We look for ways to organize and describe our world – and numbers are one of the tools we created to support this:

    • Categorizing (nominal)
    • Ordering (ordinal)
    • Counting (cardinal)
    • Measuring (interval and ratio)

    Something to ask students: why were/are numbers important? In our class discussion classmates argued that math is everywhere and we use it everyday in baking, measuring, banking, even sports. Math is a language that we use to communicate quantities.

    Toward the end of class we were given the opportunity to try out some useful math games that we would use with our students. These were fun and did not single one player out as better than others. There games of chance that involved math and working/playing with classmates.

    • 1)  Sorting attribute cards (2, 3, 4 … groups) Resources: ‘Face’ cards Create different sortings… Can your neighbor guess the attribute you used?

      2)  Ordering objects Resources: Seashore Choose and attribute and put the creatures in order. Can your neighbor place another item in the right position? Can they guess the attribute?

      3)  Can you guess (‘I spy’/ ‘Twenty questions’ )? Resources: Classroom One person visually picks an object in the class, then take turns guessing attributes.

      4)  Create a pattern (crawlies, act, song) Resources: Crawlies Start with AB, AAB, ABBB, etc. then get creative. Can you make a ‘song’/clap-stomp/? to go with it? Yes! My group made up multiple songs. We did one song about the colours and one about the dinosaurs food preferences (herbivores and carnivores), complete with actions and action words (munch, munch, crunch, crunch)

      5)  Dot Card Peace Resources: Dot cards Split the stack of dot cards evenly
      Flip the top cards – whoever has the most dots, wins if they can say both aloud (and maybe how they figured it out). How might you differentiate this? I think you could differentiate this by making the rule that whomever has the most dots wins, whether or not they say it themselves or their aid or the other player/s.

      6)  Slavonic Abacus Counting Resources: Slavonic Abaci Show 3, 5, 7, 15, 29, 42, 68 – what do you notice about the abacus? Skip count by 2, 5, 10, 3, 4, 7 etc. How does the abacus help/hinder?