Why Dot Collections?

The hand out below describes the skill of subitizing. Share with colleagues and parents.

Number Sense begins with the ability to automatically identify and describe quantities to 10.

I see 7 things, I know 7 can be expressed as 5 + 2 and 4 + 3 and 6 + 1. They are all connected and I can explain how. They are all equal, they all represent 7 things. I can show you by putting out 7 things and moving them around. You will see it is always 7.

In Kindergarten and Grade One, students first develop their ability to subitize. They build, sort, compare and combine collections of 2, 3 and eventually 5.

Use dots and recipe cards. Make sets of 2. Describe position and orientation. Build vocabulary. Introduced the equal sign.

My materials are developed around 3 different models and teachers guide students to translate between the 3 models.

Dot Collections, Block Collections & Chunk itZ

Once students trust and can Find 5 in larger collections, introduce and practice building fluency with the numbers from 6 to 10. The materials are set up as separate books to make it easier to download.

The materials are sequenced to lead students through a progression of number sense components. The work begins with quantity recognition, NOT making equations. Not writing additions and subtractions.

Understanding the additive composition of each number forms the foundation for LIFELONG success with ALL math.


My early number materials focus around 3 different physical models. Each serves a distinct purpose. The goal is translation. If students truly understand, they can translate the 7 into different representations.

I use something round: dots or bingo chips

I use something 3 dimensional: unifix cubes

I use something connected or Chunked: Chunk itZ

As adults we often forget that young learners need to connect their hands to their brains. Learning to print the numbers is very different from matching the symbol to the quantity. Students need tasks that do both. When they are practicing printing the numbers they may find it impossible to also think about the composition.

What’s Covered Tasks

If students truly understand the additive composition of a number to 10, they can explain how much is missing when given only part of the number. THIS IS THE FOUNDATION FOR UNDERSTANDING SUBTRACTION. These are number sense tasks that focus on relationships but they lead directly into adding and subtracting.

I see 4 dots but the card says 6.
How many are covered?
How do you know?
The card says 10, but I only see 6. How many are covered? How do you know?