Array OCEAN TEN-FRAME SENSORY BIN | Montessori From The Heart



OCEAN themed SENSORY BIN is a Montessori counting preschool activity to learn a concept of a TEN-FRAME, cardinality, and numeral to quantity association.

Thinking about numbers using a frame of (1o) ten is an effective way to learn basic number facts, numeral to quantity association, and to develop counting and addition skills. Besides, what child would not like to dive deep into the ocean to find gold treasures and coins! Or, better yet, collect shark teeth on a sandy beach! Well, with small world imaginary project-based invitations to learn and play, your child can do all that! Most importantly, with this OCEAN TEN-FRAME SENSORY BIN Montessori counting preschool activity, your little learner will be building a strong foundation for a quantitative approach to math, which makes abstract mathematical concepts as concrete as possible!


A ten frame is a visual tool to help children “see” numbers concretely, understand place value, and learn essential strategies for mental addition and subtraction. When used effectively, ten frames can help preschoolers build a strong sense of number. Although in grade K Math, your kindergartner is expected to work with double 10-frames, preschoolers should be working with single tens frames daily. A (10) ten frame is a valuable tool and strategy for developing foundational math skills and number sense to meet the Common Core State Standards. 



HOW to set this Montessori counting preschool activity

First, to make a 10–frame, cut out two compartments off an egg carton and bake at low at 250 F for 15 min to potentially kill any bacteria or salmonella that might reside on a carton. Next, you will need counters or manipulatives ~ aka what your child will be counting. For example, we are using gold coins as counters, however, you can use shark teeth as well. Make sure that you have 55 counters/items to count for the ten-frame.

Moreover, set your small world sensory bin. Use what you have and be as creative as your supplies permit! For example, I made SAND play dough as a sandy beach. To make SAND play dough, substitute 25% of flour for regular sand. (See our play-dough recipe HERE.) Alternatively, you can use kinetic sand.

Lastly, place a small numeral into each of the ten-frame compartment, and invite your child to place into each compartment a corresponding quantity of either coins or shark teeth.

During this Ocean themed ten frame sensory play, your child is developing hand-eye coordination, 1:1 correspondence, and fine motor control (using tongs). Also, your child is learning CARDINALITY and NUMERAL to QUANTITY association. If you think of it, when a child sees a number, it is a mere symbol, we, humans, decided to use to represent actual QUANTITY. So, by offering engaging invitations to learn and play, you can practice this skill which is not innate in little people.

Practice is the means of inviting the perfection desired.

Martha Graham.

AGE 3Y +. Always supervise your child! Small items are poky and a choking hazard! Sand play dough is NOT edible!

Keep in mind when setting up your SAMLL WORLD PLAY

  • Follow your child’s INTERESTS – that’s your THEME! Be is transportation, princesses, unicorns, dragons, etc!
  • Choose a FILLER that is appropriate for your child’s age. For example, for a 6 month-old, offer only TASTE-SAFE or zip-lock/sensory bags/board options.
  • Decide on a GOAL: Is it math? Tactile stimulation? Language enrichment? learning about animal habitats, etc.
  • DO NOT set it up where you will NOT be present! If you are making dinner, set it up in the kitchen. You HAVE to SUPERVISE (or observe/glance with older ones) at ALL TIMES! Small world play is NOT to replace YOU! It’s to engage your child is a creative play while you are THERE and can get to something else! ( Catching up a breath is totally getting to something! Lol)

Counting & Cardinality

A strong understanding of a “ten” is a prerequisite for place value understanding and mental calculations. By using a ten frame, children can visualize that 7 is 2 more than 5 and 3 less than 10, or that 9 is as “5 and 4 more” and as “1 away from 10.” With practice, once children learn to visualize the numbers one through ten, they begin to develop mental strategies for manipulating those numbers, all within the context of the numbers’ relationship to ten. Moreover, DIY ten frames can be used to develop preschoolers’ subitizing skills, which is the ability to instantly tell how many objects there are without actually counting. There are two types of subitizing: perceptual and conceptual. For example, perceptual subitizing is the ability to recognize a number without using other mathematical processes as when a two-year-old sees and recognizes two objects without using any learned numeracy skills. This type is closest to the original definition of subitizing. Conceptual subitizing, on the other hand, is when a child sees a five dot domino and s/he knows right away the total number. However, the child “knows” the quantity because the domino number pattern is recognized as a composite of parts and as a whole. That is a child sees a domino as being composed of two groups of two and one in the center.


  • Count to tell the number of objects CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.K.CC.B.4
  • Understand the relationship between numbers and quantities; connect counting to cardinality.CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.K.CC.B.4.A
  • When counting objects, say the number names in the standard order, pairing each object with one and only one number name and each number name with one and only one object.CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.K.CC.B.4.B
  • Understand that the last number name said tells the number of objects counted. The number of objects is the same regardless of their arrangement or the order in which they were counted.CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.K.CC.B.4.C
  • Understand that each successive number name refers to a quantity that is one larger.

You can see OCEAN TEN-FRAME SENSORY BIN Montessori counting preschool activity on Instagram HERE.


Octopus-Tentacle-Counting-1-1 correspondence-Math-Preschool
Octopus-Tentacle-Counting-1-1 correspondence-Math-Preschool ~on IG HERE



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Please, always supervise your child!

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♡ Enriching the Mind one Heart at a time ♡
Enriching the Mind one Heart at a time

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