Welcome to the Bright Idea Zone!

One toy, many ways to play.

Discover a multitude of bright ideas for each placemat and keep the fun fresh. Designed by educational experts and sorted by age and ability, these activities help keep little minds engaged and growing.

For offline play, click to download the printer-friendly version of this page, as well as your bonus printable tools, and begin your learning adventure today!

Well, hello there! We are so excited to be joining your little learner on their counting journey. Let's use your numbers placemat to have some fun with digits! Scroll down for a learning guide moving from toddlers up through kindergarteners.

Easy as 1-2-3! Number Learning with Your Child!

  • As you introduce 1-to-1 correspondence (i.e. the ability to pair each object counted with a number word), do so in chunks! Start with the numbers 1 through 3 then progress to 1 through 5 and then finally 1 through 10.
  • Trace the number with your finger as you talk about the number. Point to the dots and count. 
  • Using your D&J Bag of Chips, count them out and line them up on the colored dots. Alternatively, you can use pony beads, LEGO pieces, buttons or any other countable object. 
  • For example: “Here is the number 4. Let’s count out 4 bingo chips. 1, 2, 3, 4! There are 4 here!” 
  • Snacktivity - provide your child with cereal or a countable candy or snack and have them count and line up the pieces on the dots. 
  • When discussing each number, bring it back to the number line. “Here is the number 6. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. Let’s find that number on the number line!”

Now You See Me, Now You…Identify Me!

  • Match your D&J 123 Find & Fit number puzzle pieces (or D&J Squeeze and Stack blocks) over the corresponding numbers.
  • Point to a number and ask the child to represent that number in the ten frame using D&J Bingo Chips or another manipulative (maybe a snack piece!) 
  • Number line hop. Encourage your child to hop down the number line as they count forward or backwards starting at different spots.


  • Begin by explaining what a pattern is. Our environment is full of patterns and one of the easiest for children to recognize is related to their day and routine. Use the example of Day-Night-Day-Night for a pattern. You can then show your child the example of the AB pattern across the top of the placemat. 
  • The right side of the mat shows an ABC pattern. A fun example to pair with this pattern is breakfast-lunch-dinner. 
  • The pattern on the left side of the placemat is an ABB pattern. This pattern can be demonstrated by making noises or music with your voice or drumming your hands on two different objects. Children love hearing patterns in music! 
  • Once you have discussed what a pattern is, walk through the patterns with your child. Ask them what comes next or what comes before. The child can use the D&J printable bugs to show you the answer as well. It is important that your child doesn’t think the pattern changes or turns on the placemat so covering the perpendicular side with your hand may be helpful to prevent confusion. 
  • Encourage your child to create their own patterns using the D&J Bug printables, D&J Bingo Chips, dot markers or different types of snacks.
  • As your child advances with patterns and has a strong understanding of them, place D&J Bingo Chips along the start of each pattern and encourage your child to recognize what bug is coded to what color and finish the pattern.

You Can Do It, Put Your Hands Into It! Number formation

  • Encourage your child to trace the different numbers with their finger. 
  • Have your child roll playdough and shape it into the numbers shown on the placemat.
  • Using washable paint or fingerpaint, encourage your child to trace the numbers on the placemat using their fingers or Q-tips to paint. 
  • Using Post-it notes, encourage your child to write and match numbers on the Post-it.

Tens of Sorts

  • Pick a number and have the child show it using the ten frame (and your D&J bingo chips or snacks). “How many more do you need to add to get to 10?”
  • Start with ten. Cover the ten frame with bingo chips (or snacks or another countable object) and ask how many you need to remove to get to a particular number. “There are 10 here. How many should I remove so there are only 6 left? That’s right…4 because 6 and 4 together make 10.”
  • Roll a die and place objects (Cheerios, buttons, etc.) on the ten frame until they reach ten. Then start again.

Just 1 More, Please? Learning concepts of more/less:

  • Line up your D&J bingo chips on the circle dots for a particular number. “Look, we have 5 red chips here. If I add 2 more chips how many would I have? That’s right because 2 more than 5 is 7.” Use the number line to reinforce this concept.
  • “How many flies can you find on this left edge? Yes, there are 8 flies.” Cover one fly with your finger. “Now how many flies are there? That’s right because one less than 8 is 7.” 
  • Count out a number of a particular snack (arrange them on the dots if they fit). Add one more and then ask your child how many they have and point to the number together. Return to your original quantity. Take away one of the objects and ask how many are there.

So Many Ways To Make Numbers! Number Composition

  • Line up your D&J bingo chips on the circle dots (you can also use cheerios or any countable object) for a number. Discuss the different ways you can ‘make’ that number by forming groups of the objects.
  • Challenge your child to use different colored D&J bingo chips or objects or cereal to show a way that a number can be made. For example, “Let’s make the number 5 using 2 different colors.” 
  • Ask your child to ‘make the number’ using different equations. Challenge your child to write number sentences on post-its and place them on top of the corresponding number. See how many they can get. For example: 1+4=5, 2+3=5, 10-5=5 would all go on 5. 
  • Sort your D&J dominos onto the placemat. Instruct the child to sort the 11 and 12 over the ten frame or number line

Don’t Stop Now!

  • What’s missing - Cover a handful of numbers on the number line with tape, paper pieces or playdough. Ask your child to identify which numbers are missing. 
  • Addition - Pick two numbers and encourage the child to add them together using the number line.