North Carolina Early Learning and Development Progressions: Birth to Five

Domain: NC Foundations for Early Learning: Cognitive Development (CD)

Subdomain: Mathematical Thinking and Expression

Goal: Children show understanding of numbers and quantities during play and other activities

Skill Progression: Recognizing number and subitizing

Age: 54-60 Months

Click here to go to all skills for ages 54-60 Months.

Uses counting to compare amounts in sets even if items are different sizes

Situations for Observation of Skill

Use clean up time for a math activity. Children will pick up a variety of materials to be sorted, counted, and then put away. Give each child a basket to carry and a piece of paper on a table at their seat with a grid.

Elicitation Strategy

At clean up time, give each child a small basket. Ask children to walk around the room for one minute. During the one minute they are to pick up items they find that need to be put away and put them in their basket. At the end of one minute, have the children bring their baskets back to the table and put them in front of their piece of paper. Have them put items that go in the same place or are alike into different piles (e.g., blocks, markers, dolls, cars). On their paper they should make a mark or draw a picture or symbol for each item in a pile in a square and write a total number in each pile at the end of the row. For example, 3 blocks, 4 pieces of food, and 2 dolls. At the bottom of their rows have them write the total number of items they picked up. Children can then tape their pictures on the board or wall and count how many items were picked up altogether! Now it’s time to put them away. The adult can point out how much can be done when everyone works together!

Behavior Observed

This activity requires children to group and classify, count, and combine sets for a total. The adult needs to monitor each child’s skill by observing them and asking them questions about what they are doing. Provide suggestions for simple symbols if needed to help children draw more quickly.

Routines-based Intervention (Embedded Instruction)

Encourage parents to include classifying and counting into their daily activities with children. For example, they can count and record what they do for their chores in pictures or symbols. They can use these pictures to show parents how much they have done.

 North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, 2015

©2015 by the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction. This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. To view a copy of this license, visit