Subitizing Math Centers in Kindergarten

Are you looking for some subitizing math centers for kindergarten? This blog post will share 8 fun subitizing activities that are perfect for kindergarten math centers!

Why Use Subitizing Math Centers in Kindergarten?

Teachers often use math centers in order to individualize instruction. Having students work in centers gives teachers time to either work with students in a small group or within one of the math centers during center time.

What Can Kids Do During Math Centers?

Subitizing skills are perfect to practice in math centers because they require repeated exposure in order to become secure in the skill. Students don’t simply memorize subitizing; they have to practice it to make sense of it. There are lots of fun games and activities that help students develop subitizing skills. Because of their game format or hands-on format, they are perfect to use in math centers.

You might want to keep your math centers simple and manageable. First of all, few teachers have a para/aide during this time, so the centers need to include activities the kids can complete independently.

Second, you have plenty of things to do during your prep time. You don’t need to spend it all creating several new math centers every week.

Finally, math centers should be engaging for students, to increase learning and decrease off-task behavior. Kids prefer math center activities where they can interact (and practicing those developing social skills), as well as hands-on activities that can more deeply engage their brains.

For these reasons, you’ll want to find activities that are easy to create and simple for students to use with little help. Games and activities with a similar structure (such as various versions of “memory” or Bingo) are helpful because once students know the basic routine, you can add a new version to practice a new skill. Activities with math manipulatives also meet these requirements.

Fun Subitizing Math Centers

Keep reading to find 8 quick and easy subitizing math centers for kindergarten.

Ten Frame War

This is one of my favorite subitizing games. It is SO engaging for students – they don’t even realize they are working on math skills while they play this fun game.

To play, you’ll need cards with ten frames on them. You can create 3-4 sets of cards with ten-frames to 10. Or you can nab these FREE ones from my store.

Photo of cards with ten-frames on them, used to play a subitizing center game in kindergarten.

This game is played like the traditional war game. To simplify the process, you might have kids leave the cards piled in the middle of the players. Each player takes one card and announces the number of dots they have. Then players compare cards. The player with the largest number takes all the cards that were played that round.

Play continues for a set amount of time (or until someone runs out of cards.) The player with the most cards is the winner.

Sort Subitizing Cards

Grab your favorite deck of subitizing cards and have students sort them by the numbers they represent. (If you don’t have subitizing cards, I have a printable set in my store.) You might provide numerals to use as “headings” for the sorts, or encourage students to look at the represented number on the cards in each set.

Cards like this can also be used to play Memory or Go Fish a few weeks later.

Ten Frame Match Up Puzzles

This game helps students understand the pairs of numbers that make ten. To create these little puzzles, print 9 ten frames on blue card stock and 9 ten frames on white card stock. You can use this free template as a pattern. (For this task, I don’t worry about dots on the ten frames.)

Photo of ten frames, each containing some blue and some white squares. These squares help demonstrate combinations of ten.

Take the first blue ten frame and cut it into two pieces, with one square and nine squares. Cut the next ten frame into two and eight squares. Continue until you reach five and five. Repeat with the white ten frames. 

Photo of ten frames copied on blue and white paper, then cut into pieces to create puzzles.

To match the puzzles, students need to create complete ten frames, each with one blue piece and one white piece. So a child might match the blue piece with 4 squares to the white piece with 6 squares.

As an added challenge, students can record the matching numbers on a piece of paper (ex: 4- 6). You can use these same puzzles later in the year, but have students record the related addition problem (ex: 4 + 6).

Fill the Ten Frame

You can use the same printable ten frame template for another ten frame activity. Print several blank ten frame cards on card stock. (You might want to laminate them for durability.) Then add cards with numbers to 10 (or 20) and bear counters (or your favorite math manipulative.)

Students place a number next to a ten frame and place the correct number of counters on the ten frame. If your students use Seesaw, they can upload a picture of their completed ten frames.

Ten Frame Puzzles

With these cute self-checking puzzles, students match the ten frame with a numeral. There’s also a version that adds the number word, for more advanced students.

Photo of puzzle cards showing a complete ten frame on one side and the numeral 10 on the other side.

Bonus: The series also includes self-checking puzzles for telling time and counting coins. Once yours students understand how the puzzles work, you can swap them out for a different skill. Students will already know what to do! (Email me at primarydelight@gmail.com with your suggestion for the next puzzles in the series.)

Domino Match/Sort

Put a bunch of dominos in a math center. Students can sort them by the number of dots on each domino. (To keep the task simple, only include dominoes with 6 or fewer dots. Use this again later in the year with larger numbers.)

If you want, you can include numeral cards as “headers” for the domino sort.

Ten Frame Bingo

Small groups of students can play bingo with ten frames (or dots, tally marks, etc.) One child can be the “caller” or students can take turns drawing the card to call the next number.

You can make your own bingo cars with the frame stickers or stamps, or you can grab this set from my store.

Photo a bingo board with numbers to 20, surrounded by the calling cards showing ten frames to 20.

This is another one of those centers that can easily be adapted for other skills, keeping things simple for future math centers.

Dice Graph

Give students graph paper and have them label the bottom with the numbers 1-6. (I printed my graph paper from here.) Next put enough dice for each player in the center. Players roll their die and color the box above the number they rolled.

Photo of a 6X6 grid and a die. Each time the die was rolled, the student crossed out a box above that number, creating an easy subitizing center in kindergarten.

Kids love to turn this into a race, to see what number “won” (was rolled most often.)

Wrapping It Up

First of all, a word of caution… With all of these subitizing activities, encourage students to rapidly recognize the number recognize, rather than relying solely on counting. Initially, you may need to encourage rapid recognition for the numbers 1-3, allowing counting until students become more skilled at subitizing.

Feeling ready to set up your subitizing math centers for kindergarten? As you think about adding these activities, plan to teach and practice them whole group before expecting students to use them in centers. As an alternative, you could certainly introduce and practice the games in your small group work before adding them to centers. This guided practice will help students  to do the activities independently, freeing you up to work with students at this time.

Want to learn more about subitizing in kindergarten? Check out these related blog posts:

Photo of blue and white ten frames cut into puzzles. Title says: 8 Subitizing Centers in Kindergarten."

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