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: 42-48 Months

You may choose a different domain, go back, or click on a skill below for more information.

Instantly recognizes amount up to four and names the amount

Situations for Observation of Skill

Prior to snack or during dramatic play of restaurant, the adult can arrange a snack of Gold Fish or some small snacks on small tray. Place piles of four, five, and six crackers on the tray so that the amount is clearly seen in each pile. Place the piles in patterns such as seen on dice, as patterns are easier to recognize.

Elicitation Strategy

While acting as the server, the adult asks, “How many crackers would you like, Sir?” Let the child say a number and pick a pile. Say, “Please put that pile in front of you for a minute, Sir.” (This allows the child to see the visual referent.) “I need you to help me replace the pile you took for the next customer.” Hand the child a bag or bowl of the crackers and say, “Please take the same amount of crackers you took and make a pile on my tray, so I can ask the customer next to you how many she wants.”

Behavior Observed

The child should be able to name the number corresponding to the pile selected.

Routines-based Intervention (Embedded Instruction)

Subitizing helps children with math because they begin to recognize amounts without having to count. Add to this the ability to “count on,” and determining amounts becomes much easier. Encourage parents to begin to play simple board games requiring counting up to six using one die. Dice use numbers in patterns that help children recognize amounts.

 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