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!

We know you probably have a lot of balls in the air so we’ve tried to make your job as simple as possible! Scroll down to find activity prompts in age-order as you use your sports-themed counting placemat.

Kick them, hit them, roll them, count them!

  • Line up the correct quantity of D&J bingo chips or snack pieces (blueberries work great) on each ball grouping. Count and discuss how many total there are! 
  • Count and match: Match D&J 123 Find & Fit puzzle pieces or post-it notes with numbers to the correct quantity of balls. Encourage your child to hold a second finger where they have started to help keep track as they count. 
  • Match your D&J number printable to the correct number on the placemat. 
  • Ask your child to find the same number on the trim of the placemat.
  • Number formation: Have your child do their best to write the number on a post-it and stick it over the corresponding ball count.
  • Pick and number on the trim and encourage your child to count forward or backward from that number. 
  • Two or more people roll a dice and race a character/toy/figurine around the numbers on the trim. First person to reach 60 wins.

For varsity athletes

  • Concept of ten: If we wanted 10 of each sports "ball," how many more would we need of each? Using the ten frame printable, have the child build the correct number of a specific group of balls. This allows them to visualize and best understand how many more it takes to make ten.
  • More/less/equal: Are there more basketballs or footballs? How many more? 
  • Add two sets of balls: “How many total volleyballs and tennis balls are there?” Encourage the child to work the problem out using the ten frame printable and D&J bingo chips or snack pieces. You can also use the numbers along the trim to add on. 
  • Let’s add using larger numbers! Select a number from the trim of the placemat and a set of balls from the center of the placemat. Instruct your child to find the total of the two numbers by “counting on” using the mat trim to find the new total. For example, select the number 21 on the trim and then say, “I have 21 balls and if I add this group of tennis balls, how many total balls do I have now?” Figure out how many total tennis balls there are. Then, start at 21 and count that many more forward while touching the tennis balls with the opposite hand. 
  • Odd and even numbers: Let’s try to figure out which of these groups of balls can be broken into two even piles. Can we divide the 4 balls into two equal piles? How many will be in each pile? Use your D&J bingo chips to reinforce this idea visually. Yes each pile will have 2 which means 4 is an even number. Let’s try to divide the pile of 5 into 2 equal groups. How many will be in each group? Now, let's look at the numbers along the trim of the placemat. Can you find one that is even? How do you know?
  • Skip counting: Pick a number on the trim of the placemat and ask the child to count forward or backwards by an increment. For example, start at 8 and move 10 forward from 8 to 18 and then add another group of ten to bring you to 28…
  • Counting backwards along the edges. Together with your child count backwards from a chosen number. 
  • Let’s get really tricky! If I wanted to have enough balls for 12 kids to each have one (or 5 kids to have 2 balls each...etc.)...which ball sets should I get? How do you know? Would I have extra? How many?