5 and 4 is 9: Visualizing Quantities with Fingers

*Contains affiliate links

One of the foundational concepts RightStart Math* teaches in Level A is the ability to visualize a quantity without counting it. The author points out that as humans, we are designed to visually understand quantity in groups of 5 because we have 5 fingers on each hand. The curriculum spends a lot of time focusing on this ability to “subitize” in lots of 5 rather than counting individually. The ability to subitize is a skill that enables the student to become very fast at doing math, especially as concepts become more complex.

I’ve spent a lot of time teaching my kids how to visualize quantities up to 10 with their fingers. Sometimes though, they still will go back to counting on their hands (seriously, constant smack my head moments — I’m often like, “how many times have we gone over this??!” — you too?!).


To reinforce the concept of visualizing quantities on our fingers rather than counting them, we’ve been playing Memory with the “finger cards” that come with the RightStart book bundle (it can be photocopied onto cardstock from the book, or you can buy the appendix separately and cut that up – note, the separate appendix DOES come with the book bundle).

When I first received my RightStart books, I made sure to laminate* all the appendix pages before cutting them out! I highly recommend doing this to preserve your cards!

Anyway, playing Finger Card Memory has been an excellent (and oh so simple!) tool for my kids to reinforce number quantities on their fingers without them counting one by one. As soon as I turn over a card, I announce the number – my kids do the same – and I find this also helps with teaching them to quickly recognize quantities. The best part? They ask to play again and again! Math is so easy to teach when your kids actually have fun with it! ❤

Interested in buying RightStart? Please use my RightStart affiliate link to get started!


*I am a RightStart Mathematics Affiliate*, and am committed to writing a monthly blog post about our journey with this curriculum. Any purchases you make using my affiliate links will earn me a small commission (this will not affect the cost to you!).

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