Sorting & Subitising with Egg Cartons. Playful Maths

Feb 1, 2013

Welcome back to the "Playful Maths" weekly series brought to you by

Together, let's make MATHS FUN!


Last week we brought you 2 great maths activities using egg cartons and this week we'll share 2 more before moving on to a new material next week.

Today's activity from us focuses on "Subitising/Subitizing and Sorting" 

This activity also includes countingone-to-one correspondence, fine motor skill practice and a little bit of probability/chance.

You can also use this activity to practice number recognition, number writing, graphing, addition etc.
(See the Handy Tips at the bottom)

But First- What is Subitising (Subitizing) and why is it important?

Subitising comes from the Italian Word "subito" which means "immediately/suddenly"etc. 
The skill of Subitising/Subitizing refers to the ability to see a small group and know instantly how many are in that group without counting them. For example, if you rolled a 4 on a dice you would know it is 4 straight away without counting each dot.
Developing subitising skills is important because it is an early form of grouping and aids us in learning and understanding number relationships. When you see a 5 on a dice, we know it is 5 straight away because of the 4 dots that form the square and 1 extra. (It tells our brain that 4 and 1 are 5). If you saw 5 dots in a row, your brain may not be able to instantly recognise it as a collection of 5 but should be able to instantly see a group of 2 and 3 which it knows make 5. 
Regular games using dice and using materials like dominos etc. will all aid your child in practicing Subitising and learning number relationships that will form the basis of their number understanding and aid in all future maths learning.

Right, now onto the activity.

Ages: 3+
(M has just turned 4. See the bottom for handy tips to Extend or Simplify to meet your child's needs)

Materials: Egg carton, die, paint (or anything you like to colour the inside) and coloured pom-poms (or any coloured manipulatives eg, counters, buttons, large beads etc)

Prepare your Egg Carton. Usually I let my daughter do the painting of things but part of the fun of this activity is the nice colourful surprise.

She was keen to get into this activity and the colourful surprise didn't disappoint

Before starting the game we had a look at the die together and talked about the numbers

Put the die inside the Egg Carton and close the lid

Give the Egg Carton a good shake! 
(This is a fun part, we put it into this activity after having fun shaking an egg carton in this activity)

Put the Egg Carton down and open the lid. She couldn't wait to see which colour the die was in.

Encourage children to tell you the number on the die. See if they can tell you without counting each dot. 
Count out the corresponding colour and number of pompoms.

Keep repeating so that children practice seeing and recognising the amount and then corresponding that to a group they have counted-out
I loved how here she first counted out 4 in one row and 2 in the other and then was all puzzled as to what was going on. She recounted a couple of times to make sure there was still 6 before moving them into 2 rows of 3. Is it just me that gets excited by this learning...?

And repeat...
 "Another 4!" she exclaimed. (we'd had quite a few). Use a time like this to talk about guessing.. (and bringing up basic concepts of chance/probability)

I challenged her to get the dice in a PINK section.. 

To make things a little more interesting I gave her a pair of children's chopsticks (they're joined near the top so easier for little kids and you can get them quite $2 at Kmart).
This not only added some extra fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination but brought new life and added  concentration to the same activity.

Handy Tips:

- Simplify this activity by perhaps only including a couple of primary colours. A half dozen egg carton would probably be better for little hands as well.

- You can Extend this activity in many ways:
  • add an extra die in the mix to practice addition
  • keep a tally of the numbers that come up of each colour to see which colour got the highest overall
  • make a graph of the amount of times each colour in landed in... etc

- Mix it up by using this same idea to practice number recognition with a numerical dice and have the children practice writing the number each time.

- To learn new skills and to consolidate their understanding, children need to experience opportunities to practice these skills over and over again. Repeat this activity with different colours, manipulatives etc.

- You don't have to use pompoms. Whatever you have available, so long as you have at least 6 of each colour it's fine

- Don't forget to pop over to The Imagination Tree to see their Egg Carton Maths activity from this week and be sure to stop back next week as together we bring you another 2 fun Playful Maths activities... with Paper Tubes!

Happy playing,
Debs :)

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