Welcome to the Bright Idea Zone!

One toy, many ways to play.

Unearth intriguing facts and information that will delight learners of all ages and enhance the placemat experience! Do you want to share the fun with your children off the screen? Simply click to download the printer-friendly children’s version of this page or access your bonus printable coloring pages. Get ready to embark on an educational adventure!

I’m sure if we showed you a picture of the golden arches, you’d be quick to pair it with McDonalds, or if we showed you a red bullseye you’d associate it with the superstore Target. Icons are all around us, and they communicate without words. Pretty neat, eh? Well, when you look at the map of the world, we’ve sprinkled a few icons across the globe to help you make associations with what you might find there. These icons serve as a quick way to acclimate yourself, or to familiarize yourself, with the many wonders of the world. Shall we start?

Continents are the large land masses that make up our planet Earth. Each continent on this map is a different color. There are seven continents in total, and each one is unique in its own way.

North America (Green) - North America is the third largest continent and is home to many countries including Canada, the United States, and Mexico. North America has the longest river in the world, the Mississippi River.

South America (Orange) - South America is the fourth largest continent and contains the countries of Brazil, Argentina, and Peru among others. South America has the largest rainforest in the world, the Amazon Rainforest.

Europe (Purple) - Europe is the second smallest continent and has the familiar France, Germany, and Italy in its boundaries. Europe is the only continent that doesn't have any deserts.

Africa (Pink) - Africa is the second largest continent and is home to countries such as Egypt, Kenya, and South Africa. Africa has the world's largest desert, the Sahara Desert.

Asia (Blue) - Asia is the largest continent and is home to countries like China, India, and Japan. Asia is the most populous continent in the world, meaning the most people live there, with more than half of the world's population living there.

Australia (Yellow) - Australia is the smallest continent and is also a country. Australia has some of the world's most unique animals, like kangaroos, koalas, and wallabies.

Antarctica (White) - Antarctica is the fifth largest continent and is covered in ice and snow. Antarctica is the coldest place on Earth, with temperatures sometimes dropping below -100 degrees Fahrenheit!

Each continent is special in its own way, with its own unique geography, culture, and wildlife. Exploring the world's continents can be an exciting adventure! Let’s find out which continent is your favorite as you explore the various icons across the globe!

North America

Bald Eagle: Alaska 

  • The bald eagle is a special bird that has a lot of significance in the United States. It's a symbol of freedom and strength, and it's even on the country's official seal! Bald eagles are found all over North America, from Canada down to Mexico. They like to live near water such as rivers, lakes, and the coast. Where can you find the most bald eagles in the US? Alaska! Alaska is home to more bald eagles than any other state in the USA!
  • Back in the 1960s, there were only a few hundred bald eagles left in the whole country! They almost went extinct. But thanks to conservation efforts, their populations have bounced back. Today, there are over 70,000 bald eagles in the United States.

Whale: Pacific Ocean 

  • Whales are huge animals that live in the ocean. They are famous for their big size and their beautiful songs. One special place where you can see whales is in the Pacific Ocean, off the coast of Alaska and Canada. Every year, thousands of people go to Alaska and Canada to watch whales swim and play in the ocean. Observers can see all kinds of whales, like humpback whales, gray whales, and orcas. They can also see other marine animals, like sea otters, seals, and sea lions.

Moose: Canada 

  • Moose are big animals that live in North America. They are famous for their big antlers and their love of eating leaves and twigs. In Canada, moose are found in many different habitats, like forests, swamps, and even tundras. They are well adapted to living in cold climates with thick fur coats to keep them warm.
  • Moose are also important to the people of Canada. They are a symbol of Canadian wilderness and often featured in art and literature. Many Canadians hunt moose for their meat, which is a source of food for many families.

Volcano: Hawaii

  • Volcanoes are mountains full of hot lava (oh I bet that made you think of the game The Floor is Lava) that can erupt, or spew out lava and ash. Hawaii is a very special place because it has some of the most active volcanoes in the world, and Hawaii itself was formed by a series of underwater volcanoes called seamounts! There are five active volcanoes including Kilauea and Mauna Loa. Kilauea is one of the world's most active volcanoes, and it has been erupting almost continuously since 1983! These volcanoes are important because they help create new land by adding layers of lava to the coastline.
  • Volcanoes are highly important to the people of Hawaii. They are a symbol of the power and beauty of nature, and they are deeply connected to Hawaiian culture and mythology. Many Hawaiians believe that the goddess Pele lives in the volcanoes and that she creates and destroys the land (all right, we’re all thinking about Te Fiti in Moana! How cool!). 

Golden Gate Bridge: San Francisco, California 

  • The Golden Gate Bridge is a famous suspension bridge located in San Francisco, California. It’s almost 2 miles long and spans across the Golden Gate Strait, which connects San Francisco Bay to the Pacific Ocean over 220 feet above the water. It is one of the world's most famous bridges, and it's known for its stunning orange color and unique design. The Golden Gate Bridge was completed in 1937 but took more than four years to build. At the time, it was the longest suspension bridge in the world!

Mount Rushmore: Keystone, South Dakota 

  • Mount Rushmore is a famous mountain located in the Black Hills region of South Dakota. It's known for its giant sculptures of four famous American presidents: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln. The sculptures were carved into the side of the mountain between 1927 and 1941 by a team of workers led by sculptor Gutzon Borglum. The project was started in order to promote tourism in the area and to create a lasting monument to American history and the ideas of democracy, freedom and progress. Each sculpture is over 60 feet tall and was carved using dynamite and chisels – that must have been something to see during production! The process was dangerous and difficult, with workers suspended from ropes hundreds of feet above the ground. Any volunteers?
  • Today, Mount Rushmore is a popular tourist destination, attracting millions of visitors every year. 

Statue of Liberty: New York City, New York 

  • The Statue of Liberty is a famous monument located in New York City, New York. The statue was a gift from France to the United States in 1886 to celebrate the centennial of the American Revolution. It was designed by French sculptor Frédéric-Auguste Bartholdi and constructed with the help of engineer Gustave Eiffel. The statue is over 150 feet tall and stands on a pedestal that's over 150 feet tall as well. It depicts a woman holding a torch and a tablet (no, not an iPad!), representing freedom and democracy, respectively. The statue is made of copper and has turned green over time due to weathering.
  • The Statue of Liberty has become a symbol of hope and opportunity for millions of people around the world. It was often the first thing immigrants saw as they arrived in the United States and represented a new beginning and a new life.

El Castillo: Mexico 

  • El Castillo, which means “castle” in Spanish, is a famous ancient pyramid located in Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula. It was built by the Mayan people over a thousand years ago between the 9th and 12th centuries. It was used for religious ceremonies and astronomical observations by the Mayan people. The pyramid is over 30 meters tall and has four sides, each with a staircase leading up to a small temple at the top. Today, visitors can climb up the steep staircases to the top of the pyramid, where they can see beautiful views of the surrounding jungle and explore the small temple at the top. 
  • One of the most interesting features of El Castillo is its alignment with the sun. On the spring and autumn equinoxes, the sun shines on the pyramid in such a way that it creates the illusion of a serpent slithering down the steps. How cool is that? This has led some people to call El Castillo the "Temple of the Serpent." El Castillo is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Mexico.

South America

Llama, llama!

  • Llamas are a type of animal that are found in South America, particularly in the Andes Mountains. Llamas are well adapted to the harsh conditions of the Andes Mountains. They have thick fur coats that keep them warm in the cold, high-altitude climate, and they are able to survive on the sparse vegetation found in the area. Llamas have been used by indigenous people in South America for thousands of years as pack animals, carrying goods and supplies over long distances. Today, llamas are still used for this purpose, but they are also raised for their meat, wool, and leather. 

Poison Dart Frog

  • Poison dart frogs are small, brightly colored frogs that are found in the rainforests of Central and South America. Think neon yellow and neon orange! They are famous for their striking colors and toxic skin, which contains a powerful poison. The poison is used by the frogs as a defense mechanism against predators. Indigenous people in South America have used the poison for hunting and warfare, coating the tips of their blow darts with the toxin to make them more effective.

Christ the Redeemer: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil 

  • Christ the Redeemer is a famous statue of Jesus Christ located in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The statue was built between 1922 and 1931 and was designed by French sculptor Paul Landowski and Brazilian engineer Heitor da Silva Costa. It stands over 98 feet tall, with its arms stretched out to either side, and it weighs over 635 tons. Can you imagine giving it a piggy back? The statue was built as a symbol of peace and unity after World War I and has become an important religious and cultural symbol for Brazil and for Christians all over the world.

Machu Picchu: Peru

  • Machu Picchu is a famous ancient Incan city located in the Andes Mountains of Peru. The city was built by the Inca people in the 15th century and was used as a retreat for the Inca rulers and nobility. It was abandoned during the Spanish conquest of South America in the 16th century, and it remained hidden and forgotten for centuries until it was rediscovered by an American explorer, Hiram Bingham, in 1911. Today, Machu Picchu is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the most popular tourist destinations in South America. Visitors can hike the Inca Trail to reach the site, or they can take a train and bus to the nearby town of Aguas Calientes.


The Acropolis: Athens, Greece 

  • The Acropolis is an ancient citadel, or fortress protecting a city, located in Athens, Greece. The Acropolis was built in the 5th century BC during the height of the Athenian Empire. It was used as a center of religious and political activity and was the site of many important events in ancient Greek history. The most famous structure on the Acropolis is the Parthenon, a massive temple dedicated to the goddess of war, Athena. The Parthenon was built in the Doric style with clean-line columns and was decorated with intricate sculptures. 
  • Over the centuries, the Acropolis was damaged and destroyed by wars, earthquakes, and other disasters. However, in the 19th and 20th centuries, the site was carefully restored and preserved. Today it’s one of the most popular tourist destinations in Greece.

The Colosseum: Rome, Italy 

  • The Colosseum is an iconic ancient amphitheater, or outdoor enclosed structure, located in Rome, Italy. It was built in the 1st century AD as a place for public entertainment, particularly gladiatorial games where hungry animals fought other hungry animals or hungry animals fought men–yikes! It could hold up to 50,000 spectators and was used for hundreds of years.
  • Over the centuries, the Colosseum was damaged by weather and natural disasters. It has been partially restored and preserved, and it remains a very popular tourist destination in Italy.

Leaning Tower of Pisa: Pisa, Italy 

  • The Leaning Tower of Pisa is a famous bell tower full of beautiful bells that is still rung on occasion today and is located in Pisa, Italy. The tower was built in the 12th century and began to lean during its construction due to unstable soil conditions. Despite efforts to correct the tilt, the tower continued to lean and has become a symbol of Pisa and a popular tourist destination. Today, visitors can safely climb to the top of the tower and enjoy stunning views of the surrounding area. 

Eiffel Tower: Paris, France

  • The Eiffel Tower is an iconic landmark located in Paris, France. It was built in 1889 for the World's Fair and quickly became one of the most recognizable structures in the world. The tower stands over 1,000 feet tall, and it's made of wrought iron. It was designed by French engineer Gustave Eiffel and was intended to be a temporary structure. It proved to be so popular it was allowed to remain standing. You should ask a parent to name 3 movies the Eiffel Tower has been in! It’s that iconic.

St. Basil’s Cathedral: Moscow, Russia 

  • St. Basil's Cathedral is a famous landmark located in Moscow, Russia. It was built in the 16th century and is known for its distinctive and colorful onion-shaped domes. The cathedral was commissioned, or specially ordered to be produced by Ivan the Terrible, a famous Russian ruler, to celebrate the capture of the city of Kazan. It's named after St. Basil the Blessed, a Russian holy man who lived in the 16th century. Today, visitors can explore the cathedral and admire its beautiful architecture and artwork. The cathedral is home to many beautiful icons and frescoes, or watercolor paintings on plaster, as well as the tomb of St. Basil.

Big Ben: London, England

  • Big Ben is a 315 foot tall iconic landmark located in London, England. Technically, Big Ben refers to the massive bell that is housed inside the clock tower. The clock tower itself is officially known as the Elizabeth Tower in honor of Queen Elizabeth II. It was completed in 1859 in distinctive Gothic Revival architecture by English architect Augustus Pugin. 

Nested Dolls: Moscow, Russia

  • Nested dolls, also known as Matryoshka dolls traditionally made in Russia, are sets of wooden dolls that are nested inside one another. The first nested dolls were made in the late 19th century and quickly became popular as toys and decorative items. Each set of dolls typically includes several dolls, ranging in size from very small (as small as a grain of rice!) to quite large (up to 15 inches tall). The dolls are usually painted with bright colors and intricate designs or motifs including Russian flowers, birds, and folk costumes.


Scuba Diver off Coast:

  • The coastline of Africa is home to a wide variety of marine life including colorful fish, sea turtles, dolphins, and even whales! This makes for many popular scuba diving destinations such as the Cape Verde Islands and Mozambique. 
  • Scuba diving off the west coast of Africa provides not only a chance to see beautiful and unique marine life but also an opportunity to explore the rich history of the region. Many dive sites are located near historic shipwrecks or ancient ruins, offering a glimpse into the past.


  • Zebras are found throughout the grasslands and savannas of Africa and are easily recognized by their black and white stripes. They’re gorgeous! Each zebra has a unique pattern of stripes similar to how every person has unique fingerprints. Scientists believe that the stripes help to confuse predators by making it harder to single out an individual zebra in a herd.
  • Zebras are herbivores, which means they only eat plants. They use their strong teeth to chew tough grasses and leaves, and they can go without water for several days by getting moisture from the plants they eat. See? Another reason to eat your vegetables! Increased water consumption.


  • Rhinos are big and powerful animals that live in Africa. They are known for their large size and distinctive horns. The horns are actually made of keratin, which is the same material that makes up human hair and nails. Sadly, rhinos are often targeted by poachers who kill them for their horns. Rhinos also have thick, armor-like skin that can protect them from predators. Despite their size, rhinos are surprisingly fast and can run up to speeds of 30 miles per hour when threatened.


  • Lions are one of the most famous animals in Africa and are known for their big manes and fierce roar. Lions are apex predators, which means they are at the top of the food chain – a nice and safe place to be! They hunt other animals like antelopes, zebras, and buffalo, which helps to keep the populations of these animals in check. The circle of life, right?

The Great Pyramids of Giza: Cairo, Egypt 

  • The Great Pyramids of Giza are a group of three huge pyramids that are located in Egypt. They were built around 4,500 years ago by ancient Egyptians as tombs for their pharaohs, or kings. Egyptians believed that after the pharaohs died, their spirits would travel to the afterlife and live forever. So, they built these pyramids to protect the pharaohs' bodies and belongings so that they could be with them in the afterlife.
  • The biggest pyramid is called the Great Pyramid, and it’s the oldest of the three pyramids. It was built by a pharaoh named Khufu and took over 20 years to complete. Now that’s a project! It is made of over 2 million huge blocks of stone, some of which weigh as much as 80 elephants! The pyramids are also surrounded by other buildings and structures, like temples and smaller pyramids. These were built by the ancient Egyptians to help pharaohs on their journey to the afterlife.

Mount Kilimanjaro: Tanzania, Africa 

  • Mount Kilimanjaro is the highest mountain in Africa located in the country of Tanzania and is one of the most famous mountains in the world. Kilimanjaro is actually a dormant volcano, which means it hasn't erupted in a long time. The mountain is made up of three separate volcanoes, with the highest peak being called Uhuru Peak. It is 5,895 meters (19,341 feet) tall, which is really high!
  • People from all over the world come to climb Mount Kilimanjaro. It is a tough climb but a popular adventure for the courageous! Along the way, climbers can see amazing views of the surrounding landscape including glaciers and forests. Mount Kilimanjaro is also important to the people of Tanzania, who consider it a sacred mountain. It is a symbol of their national pride and is featured on the Tanzanian flag. Who’s inspired and wants to climb Kilimanjaro? Better start practicing!


Taj Mahal: Agra, India 

  • The Taj Mahal is a beautiful white marble mausoleum located in the city of Agra, India. It was built across 20 years by a Mughal emperor named Shah Jahan in memory of his wife Mumtaz Mahal. The Taj Mahal is considered one of the most beautiful buildings in the world and is also one of the most visited tourist attractions in India. The building has four tall minarets, or slender towers, a large dome, and intricate carvings and designs all around it. Thousands of workers used a variety of tools, including elephants, to transport or move the heavy marble blocks to the building site.
  • Inside the Taj Mahal, there are two tombs decorated with beautiful calligraphy and intricate designs made out of precious stones like diamonds and rubies. One of the tombs is for Mumtaz Mahal and one for Shah Jahan himself, who was eventually buried there next to his beloved wife. Shah Jahan was imprisoned by his own son and was only able to see the building from a distance until the end of his life.

Great Wall of China: China 

  • The Great Wall of China is a long wall that stretches over 13,000 miles (21,000 kilometers) across northern China. Now that’s a fence! It is the longest wall in the world and is considered one of the greatest engineering feats in human history.
  • The Great Wall of China was built over many centuries starting over 2,000 years ago in the Qin Dynasty. The wall was built to protect China from invaders from the north, like the Mongols. The wall was made using different materials, including bricks, tamped earth, and stone. It is wide enough in some places for several people to walk on it side by side and tall enough in other places for horses and carts to go through. Many watchtowers, fortresses, and barracks run along its length. These were used to house soldiers and protect against invaders. 
  • Today, the Great Wall of China is an important symbol of China's rich history and culture. It is a popular tourist attraction, and people from all over the world come to see it. The wall is also a reminder of the power and determination of the Chinese people, who were able to build such a massive structure over many centuries.

Mount Everest/Himalayas: Nepal 

  • Mount Everest is the highest mountain in the world, located in the Himalayas on the border between Nepal and Tibet. It stands at an elevation of 29,029 feet (8,848 meters) above sea level, making it a very challenging mountain to climb. The mountain was named after Sir George Everest, a British surveyor who worked in India in the 19th century. The first successful climb to the summit of Mount Everest was made by Sir Edmund Hillary of New Zealand and Tenzing Norgay, a Sherpa from Nepal, in 1953. That’s a pretty cool thing to be known for! 
  • Climbing Mount Everest is a dangerous and difficult undertaking requiring a lot of preparation and training. A lot. A lot, a lot. Climbers need to be in excellent physical condition, and must be prepared for the extreme weather conditions and high altitude. Many climbers suffer from altitude sickness, which can be fatal. Despite the dangers, many people from all over the world attempt to climb Mount Everest every year. It’s considered a great achievement to reach the summit, and many climbers feel a sense of pride and accomplishment when they do so. We hope there’s a cake at the top! 


  • Pandas are really neat animals that are only found in China. They're known for their black and white fur, and their cute, cuddly appearance.In China, pandas are considered to be a national treasure. They're so special that they have their own protected habitats, where they can live and play without being bothered by humans.
  • One fun fact about pandas is that they have a special thumb-like appendage on their front paws that helps them grab and eat bamboo. It's actually an enlarged bone called the radial sesamoid, and only pandas have them. How cool is that?


Turtle off the coast:

  • These turtles are incredibly special animals that live in the ocean near the Great Barrier Reef, which is a huge reef system that is home to many different kinds of animals and plants. The Great Barrier Reef is one of the most amazing natural wonders in the world and is a hot spot for tourists, meaning many people travel to see and explore this wonder. It's a huge system of coral reefs, islands, and cays that stretches over 2,300 kilometers (1,400 miles) along the coast of Australia.
  • The turtles that live in this area are called green sea turtles. They're named for their greenish-brown skin, which helps them blend in with the seaweed that grows in the area. These turtles are really important to the ecosystem because they eat the seaweed, helping keep the reef healthy.
  • One fun fact about green sea turtles is that they can hold their breath for up to five hours! How long can you hold yours? That's longer than most other turtles and helps them stay underwater while they search for food or escape from predators.


  • Kangaroos are unique animals that are only found in Australia. They're known for their powerful hind legs and long, strong tails that they use for balance. Kangaroos can jump up to three times their own body length in one leap, which is about 8-9 meters (26-30 feet) for some of the larger species. This helps them travel long distances quickly and escape from predators.
  • Kangaroos are also marsupials, which means they carry their babies in a pouch on their belly. When a baby kangaroo, called a joey, is born, it's only about the size of a jellybean! Ask a parent to google this with you. So cute! The joey crawls into its mother's pouch, where it stays for several months while it grows and develops.


  • Koalas are cute and cuddly animals that are also native to Australia. They're known for their soft, fuzzy ears and their love of eucalyptus leaves. Koalas are also marsupials, which means they have a pouch, called a marsupium, where their babies grow and develop after being born. These babies are born very small and under-developed, and they crawl into their mother's pouch to continue growing and developing until they are big enough to survive on their own.
  • Koalas can sleep for up to 18 hours a day, which is more than most other animals. This is because their diet of eucalyptus leaves is low in nutrients and takes a lot of energy to digest, so they need to conserve their energy. Koalas are also expert climbers. They have special claws and pads on their feet that help them grip onto trees, and their strong leg muscles allow them to climb up high. They spend most of their time in eucalyptus trees, where they eat, sleep, and rest. Sounds like a pretty sweet life to us parents! Perhaps the koala is our spirit animal. 

Sydney Opera House: Sydney Australia 

  • The Sydney Opera House is located in Sydney, which is a big city in Australia. It's a really unique building designed by a Danish architect named Jørn Utzon. that's shaped like big shells or sails on the water. It's made out of white concrete and looks different depending on where you're standing. It took many years to build the Opera House, and it finally opened in 1973.
  • Inside the Opera House, there are many different performance spaces, including a concert hall, an opera theater, and several smaller theaters. People come from all over the world to see performances at the Opera House, which include everything from classical music to rock concerts.

Uluru (Ayers Rock): Australia 

  • Uluru is a special rock formation of sandstone that's located in the middle of Australia. It's a really big rock, about 348 meters (1,142 feet) tall! Sounds like a mini mountain! What's really cool about Uluru is that it changes color throughout the day! When the sun rises and sets, the rock can turn orange, red, or even purple.
  • Uluru is also important to the Aboriginal people of Australia who have lived in the area for tens of thousands of years. They believe that the rock is a sacred site and have many stories and traditions associated with it.



  • Penguins are birds that don’t fly, dressed in tuxedos. They live in Antarctica, which is the coldest and driest continent on Earth. Nah, they don’t really wear tuxedos but their often black and white feathers certainly make them look that way! These feathers are dense and waterproof, keeping them dry while they swim. And you heard correctly. Penguins don’t fly. They swim! Their wings have evolved into flippers that help them move quickly through the water. Some penguin species can even swim up to 22 miles per hour (35 km/h)! 
  • But how do they survive in such cold conditions? Penguins have special adaptations that help them stay warm in the cold Antarctic environment. They have a layer of fat under their skin, called blubber, which helps insulate them from the cold. 

It really is incredible when you pause to think about all the unique landscapes, climates, animal species and cultures that make up our World. Sometimes it’s tricky to even imagine another country or continent outside your own fenced-in yard or local community, because those are the sights you see right before you each day! With adventure in your heart and a compass in your hand, Captain, we hope you’ve discovered wonder and new places worthy of further exploration! We hope you might even dare to sail uncharted territories one day and let us here at D&J know about animal species never known and cities or islands humans have never set foot on. Now that would be pretty cool, right?