Representing whole number

Implement professional dialogue about early mathematical development through a focus on representing whole number in your school or professional learning network using text-based protocols and core thinking routines for leaders.

Purpose of resource

The research snapshot and professional learning activity are part of the K-2 mathematics toolkit. This supports leaders to unpack research with teachers, that underpins the new syllabus.

Target audience

This resource can be used by school leaders to support teachers with effective mathematics syllabus implementation K-2.

When and how to use

The research snapshot and the professional learning activity, ‘Unpacking the evidence base’ slideshow, complement each other and are focused on the same research article. Schools might use these:

  • within whole-school professional learning sessions
  • in stage meetings
  • in professional learning groups.

These may take an hour to implement or can be modified as appropriate. The protocol used to help teachers unpack the evidence can be changed to suit the professional learning context.

Research base

The evidence base for this resource is:


Email questions, comments and feedback about this resource to using the subject line ‘Re mathematics K-2 research toolkits’.

Alignment to system priorities and/or needs – School Excellence Policy, School Excellence Procedure

Alignment to School Excellence Framework – ‘Instructional leadership’ and ‘High expectations culture’ elements in the Leading domain as well as the ‘Learning and development’ and ‘Collaborative practices and feedback’ elements of the Teaching domain.

Alignment with the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers – 6.2.4 and 6.3.4

Consulted with – Literacy and numeracy team and principal school leadership representatives

Reviewed by – CEYPL director and CSL director

Created/last updated – 06 July 2022

To be reviewed: December 2022

Subitising: What is it? Why teach it?

Clements DH (1999) ‘Subitizing: What is it? Why teach it?’, Teaching Children Mathematics, 5(7):400–405, doi:10.5951/TCM.5.7.0400.

Research snapshot

"Subitizing is a fundamental skill in the development of students’ understanding of number” (Baroody 1987, 115)

Overview of research

This research provides an overview of the mathematical concept of subitising – ‘instantly seeing how many’ – and explores the difference between perceptual and conceptual subitising. The more primitive perceptual subitising does not appear to rely upon mathematical processes and is exhibited by infants and animals. Conceptual subitising however, encompasses more sophisticated skills that are necessary to build number sense and arithmetic skills. Conceptual subitising is further examined to reveal implications for teachers and provide strategies and justification for teaching conceptual subitizing. It highlights the following points:

  • Subitising underpins counting and arithmetic skills.
  • Repeated visual and auditory experiences play a key role in subitising.
  • Slight modification to commonly used strategies can significantly enhance the development of subitising skills.

Professional discussion and reflection prompts

  • What would mathematical teaching and learning with sound subitising skills look like?
  • Where are the opportunities in my classroom to enhance subitising skill development?
  • What changes should we make as a school considering this research?

Professional learning activity

Subitising: What is it? Why teach it? (PPTX 2MB)


  • Teaching and learning

Business Unit:

  • Educational Standards
Return to top of page Back to top