Beginning number concepts for first graders include the concept of subitizing. Subitizing is the ability to look at a group of objects and know what the number is or the numbers that make up that number. For example-a child can look at the pips on dice that are rolled and know that one of them is a four because of the pattern the dots form. Another example is a child who looks at a ten frame and can recognize that the number shown is five because half of the ten frame is filled in. I recently went to a workshop with Dr. Nicki Newton who introduced me to the world of subitizing (and a cool tool I will explain below) and I have been trying ever since to figure out ways to help my students with this concept.
One of the ways to help students with this concept is a thing called a Rekenrek or Math Frame. These tools are pricey-so I have made mine out of pipe cleaners, two colored beads, and plastic mesh canvas (used when embroidering).
Children can use a Rekenrek/Math Frame to start understanding the concept of a five and ten (as well as other numbers). For example-all the beads start on the right side. To show the number five-the student swoops all the red beads on the top row to the left. To show the number eight-the student swoops all the red beads and three white beads that are on the top row to the left. Here are some resources so you can see other activities and probably a better explanation about the concept! This manipulative has endless possibilities for beginning number concepts as well as addition, subtraction, and story problems.
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