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!

Our children are often busy-little-bees getting muddy outside or building forts with every blanket and pillow around the house…and we love that here at D&J! For those moments your munchkins are ready to mellow a bit, to have a snack and play, we are sure they’ll go crazy for the math activities sprinkled across this mat. Have fun buzzing through the learning ideas specifically created with your child in mind! To make things a bit easier for you, we’ve arranged the ideas by images on the placemat so you can work through the mat section by section. Buzz-ah!

Butterfly Try It This Way? Number Exploration

  • Number composition: Select a large yellow butterfly, we’ll choose the one numbered 6. Instruct the child to place 6 beads/small buttons/cereal on the butterfly wings. Once they have completed the exercise talk through the composition: “Yes, 2 plus 4 equals 6. What is another way we can make 6?” Older children can write out the corresponding number sentences on a post-it. For a sensory experience you can also make these markings on the butterfly using playdough. 
  • Matching: Match the yellow butterflies to D&J Find and Fit number puzzles or D&J printables. You can also play this by matching with numbers that together make 10 (so a 3 has to go on a 7). 

“Let’s Go Fly A Kite” Math Mania:

  • Number composition: Spread a random amount of beads/cereal on the bottom part of the kite. Instruct the child to count them and point to the number on the number line. Encourage the child to break the quantity into two pieces/parts and divide it between the colors on the top of the kite. 
  • Language suggestions: “Can you separate these beads into two parts? How many do you have in this part? (Focus on a part of the top of the kite) How many in this part? (move to another part/section of the kite) How many whole beads do you have? Give the child the same object, but in two different colors (eg. red and blue beads) for the child to concretely see the two parts.
  • Roll two dice: 4 and a 2. Child places 4 snack pieces on one part of the kite and 2 on the other. They figure out the ‘whole’ and put that number of snack pieces on the bottom of the kite. 
  • Symmetry: put a pattern of beads on one side of the kite and encourage the child to illustrate its mirror image on the other side.
  • Odd and even: use the centerline half of the kite to talk about odd and even numbers (even numbers you can split exactly in half)
  • eg. take four Cheerios and show you can divide them in half equally on the kite, which makes it an even number; with 5 Cheerios this cannot be divided equally and therefore means it’s an odd number
  • Countdown on the tail: “Let's count down from 10” - be sure to point as you count

Stop Bugging Me! Oh Wait, Those Bugs Can Stay And Help With Math Play!

  • Estimation: Do you think this group of bugs has more or less than 5 bugs? Why do you think that? 
  • How many bugs do you see here? Can you find that number on the number line? 
  • Count and match each bug grouping with a D&J 123 Find & Fit puzzle piece. Alternatively, you can match with the D&J number or bug printable. 
  • Match the bug quantity with any other representation on the mat (eg. match a bug group with number word; bug with domino; bug and kite tail triangle). 
  • Show it: How many bugs are here? Can you show me that number using beads on the kite? Can you show it to me by finding the ladybug ten frame card (D&J printable)? 
  • Write it: count the number then write it on a post-it note 
  • Sum of ten: Can you find the other bug that when added together makes 10? Alternatively, you can match the group of bugs with the D&J Bugs Printable or D&J 123 Find & Fit puzzle piece that when added together makes 10. 
  • Addition: How many total yellow bugs do you see? You can also use your D&J bug printables to practice. Add a printable bug group to a bug group that exists on the mat. Use the number line to help you add. 
  • One more and less: Count the number of bugs and point to the number on the number line. If two more yellow bugs joined this group, how many would there be? 
  • Comparing numbers: Which of these two groups has more bugs? How many more? This can also be done with D&J printable bugs. 
  • Subtraction: Using blue playdough, cover up bugs. What happens if 3 bugs fly away from this group? Cover up the bugs with blue playdough to make them disappear. 
  • Make it: write different ways to make each number on a post-it note and place it on the group of bugs. For example, 9=4+5, 3x3, 

Teen Numbers: Using your D&J bug printable that represents the number ten. Point to a group of bugs. “How many bugs are in that group?” 8. Using your printable, say: “What if this swarm of 10 more flies over, how many are there now?” Confirm, “yes, 10 plus 8 make 18.”

Mathtastic Musings With Dominos! 

  • Count and stack: Count the dots on the dominos and stack the correct number of D&J bingo chips on top. 
  • Sort your D&J 123 Find & Fit puzzle pieces on the top of the domino faces. 
  • Sort your D&J dominos on top of each corresponding domino image on the placemat. The same can be done with sums of ten. For example, on the domino from the placemat that is a 3, you would place a 7 valued domino on top. 
  • Match your D&J numbers printable to the dominos. 
  • Match clothespins or post-it page markers to the domino total or the individual half values depending on the counting level of the child. 
  • Making 5 or 10 using clothespins or page markers. Encourage the child to make 5 or 10 using the individual squares on the domino.

Get In Line! It’s Numberline time!

  • Child counts while touching each number…both up and down. 
  • Ask your child to count up to 12 (or any number) starting at a number other than 1. “Start at 4 and count up to 9.” (children can reference the number line if needed. 
  • One (two) more or less: Ask the child to point to a number on the line. Alternatively, you can point to a group of bugs and have them identify that on the number line. Ask them to show you 2 more or two less on the number line. 
  • Odd and Even: identify the odd and even numbers on the number line. When talking about a specific number show how it can be divided on the kite in two pieces (evenly or otherwise)

We SORT-a LOVE Numbers

  • Sort D&J Find and Fit puzzle pieces along the number words on the top trim 
  • Sort clothespins or post-it page markers along the top of the placemat with numbers or match them to their corresponding sum of 10 (eg. 6 and 4). 
  • Sort dominos along the number words 

A Little Coding Practice

Coding: place 5 different colored bingo chips on top of the butterflies. For example, 3=red, 4=blue… Encourage the child to place the bingo chips on the correct number on the rest of the placemat. Everywhere the number 3 is represented/shown the child needs to put a red bingo chip. 

Math Is Language So Let’s Chat!

  • How many different ways can you find the number 6 shown on this mat? 
  • Talk about the triangles on the kite. 
  • Count by color. How many yellow things can you find on this placemat? Let’s count. 
  • Count and tally. How many triangles, squares, rectangles, circles can you find?