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!

Flowers, landscapes, the clothes you’re wearing, the cereal box from breakfast and that box of crayons tucked into the rest of your art supplies – colors are everywhere! At D&J we are here to celebrate the colors of the world with you and your kid creator while honing in on the many ways learning the colors adds vibrance and classification to language skills. So what’s your favorite color? Grab it and let’s begin!

The Beginning of the Rainbow: Introducing Colors!

  • Children typically become able to recognize colors between the ages of 18 months and 2 years. Our world is full of color and we are surrounded with opportunities to introduce color to children. 
  • Point to all the colors on the mat, one-by-one, and name them. 
  • Find other objects on the mat border that match each color you’re pointing to: Red car, red apple, etc…
  • Ask “What else is red?” and look around the room to find other objects that are red. 
  • Once your child has mastered their colors, let's work on matching. Rather than showing your child, ask them to find illustrations on the trim that are the same color as the color splash you’re pointing to. 
  • Sort colored objects onto the mat. The D&J Bingo chips are perfect for sorting!
  • Sort your colored D&J printables on the color splashes.

P.S., Colors Are Meant To Be Played With!

  • Once your child knows their colors, ask to identify them through pointing and touching. “Show me the color red!” “Where are the purple grapes?” The sky's the limit when using your mat! 
  • Game it up! Play color I-spy or mix some colored objects, pom poms or D&J Bingo Chips into a sensory bin and have your child hunt for them and sort them onto the placemat. 
  • Experiment with color blending. Grab your D&J chips and let the blending begin! Say, “See that color blending image in the bottom left corner of the placemat?” Tell the child that it is the “mixing button!” “When colors come together and blend, they make new colors! Let’s try it out.” Start with the primary colors: red, yellow and blue. Experiment with ‘mixing’ them (layering the chips) and then explain secondary colors are the new colors that come from mixing primary colors.
  • Have any washable paint nearby? Pour some blue, yellow, and red paint on your placemat! Let your child explore making new colors by mixing two colors together to make new colors.

One Blue, Two Red, Count With Me Silly Head

  • Ask your child to find pairs of images on the border of the mat. “Here is one red balloon, can you find the other?”
  • Discuss “same” and “different” using the objects on the trim of the mat. “What is the same about these two cars? What is different?”
  • Count the objects around the border. Count by category (image), color or both! 
  • Sort and count objects (D&J bingo chips, LEGO pieces, colored printables) onto the colored splashes.
  • To extend these activities you can encourage your child to choose the correct D&J Find & Fit numbers puzzle piece or Squeeze & Stack number block. “Let’s count the blue cars…there are 5 blue cars. Can you find the number 5 puzzle piece and put it on the color blue?” Repeat with all of the car colors.

Crank Up The Color Math!

  • Ask your child a question about more or less using the object just counted. “How many butterflies can you find on the placemat? If one more flies up, how many will there be?” 
  • Progress to “How many apples are on this side of the placemat?” Say, “If I eat one, how many are there now?”
  • Extend “more” and “less” exploration by using the Domino & Juliette bingo chips with the corresponding colored spot. Say, “Let's count how many orange circles we have: 1, 2, 3, 4. If we add 2 more, how many will we have? Let’s see!”
  • Compare quantities: “Are there more red or blue cars? Are there more red apples or red cars?”
  • Using the D&J bingo chips place them on each color of the placemat. Count and compare the piles. “Do you think there are more blue or red circles? Let’s count and see” This can be done with any colored countable object (pom poms, LEGOs..) or the colored object printables. To take this one step further ask the child “how many more red chips are there?” 
  • Ordinal numbers. Select an object on the border of the mat, like cars at the top of the mat. Ask your child to count out the cars from left to right. Then label each car as 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and so on or ask your child to label their order.
  • Expand ordinal number identification by asking your child to point to the 2nd car in line or 3rd, and so on.
  • Let's add! Place a different number of D&J bingo chips or colored printables on each color splash. Encourage your child to combine two colors. For example, ask “How many red bingo chips do we have? How many orange bingo chips do we have? How many total red and orange bingo chips do we have?”
  • Now do the same for subtraction! Place a different amount of chips on the color splash. Ask “How many green chips and yellow chips do you have? If you take away 2 green chips, how many yellow and green chips do you have now?”
  • Count to ten! Tell your child you want to have 10 of each car. Have your child count the blue cars. Then ask your child how many more blue cars are needed to make 10. “We want to have ten of each car. How many more blue cars do we need in order to get ten of them?”

Colorful Language - Nah Nah! The Appropriate, Toddler Kind!

Boost your child’s words and language using the color mat by discussing categories. Point out “things that go,” “things in nature,” and fruit. 

Fruit category: apple, orange, banana, lime, blueberry, grape. 

  • Look at the colors of each fruit and talk about words that go with their taste (yummy, yucky, sweet, sour). 
  • Comment on their shapes and sizes (long, short, round, little, big). 
  • Go beyond the mat! Find fruit at home and feel their textures (rough, smooth, bumpy, squishy, hard)

Let’s work on prepositions, or location words! Explore the placement of pictures around the border of the mat. Show your child the meaning of: in front of, behind, above, below, and next to. 

  • Point and say, “The orange is in front of the yellow balloon. The red car is behind the yellow balloon.” Then point to a specific image like an orange car and ask them to identify positions. Ask your child, “What is in front of this orange car? What is behind the orange car?” Continue with “What is next to this purple butterfly?” and so forth! 

Use your mat to practice letter identification. Ask your child to find specific letters in the words of the colors.

Let’s learn sounds! Say the name of a color and ask, “What is the first sound you hear in the word red? /r/” 

  • Work on additional letter sounds by exploring the objects around the border.
  • Ask, “How many pictures can you find on here that start with the B sound (balloon, butterfly, blueberry, banana.)
  • Repeat with C for car, G for grapes, L for lime, and F for flower.
  • Go beyond the mat! Look at things around the room that start with the same sound. Have fun!

Work on rhyming words. Start by picking a color on the mat, like green. Then either tell your child or ask them, "What is a word that rhymes with green?"

  • Next come up with as many words as you can think of that rhyme with green like bean, lean, clean, seen, mean, teen.

I RED You Can Use Colors To Practice Reading!

  • Syllable counting using Clap it out! Tell your child, "Let's clap out the word yellow! How many syllables/parts are in this word?" 
  • Now slowly say the word and clap along with each syllable, “yell-ow.” To expand syllable counting clap and say the words of the pictures around the whole border!
  • Show your child different vowels and how they make words. Go on a vowel hunt and look for A, E, I, O, U. Talk about how there is at least one vowel in every syllable. Ask your child, "Which vowel(s) are in the word orange?" or "How many vowels are in the word orange?" or “Which color word has the most vowels, which color has the least?”
  • Now Put the sounds together! In your best robot voice, slowly say a color, emphasizing each letter sound: “rrrrrrrrrr-eeeeeee-d” for red, “b-lllllllll-ooooo” for blue, and so forth. 
  • Work on spelling by looking at the words in the color splashes. Ask your child, "What are the letters that spell red." Read along with your child the names of each color and point to the first letter of the color and make the sound as you say the name of the word.
  • Extend spelling by spelling out objects found on the border. New-to-reading learners can identify the object and color (RED CAR), and learners with some phonemic knowledge (basic reading skills) can extend by identifying the beginning sound (R or C), or spelling full word (R-E-D or C-A-R).

Connecting Through Color Conversations:

Colors offer a wide range of topics to discuss! Try out these color conversation starters with your child. Give them time to come up with their own ideas and see what they express. Have fun with these ideas too!

  • What is your favorite color? 
  • Do you have any toys (or clothing) that are that color? 
  • Look at all of these yummy pieces of fruit. What piece of fruit would you like to eat? How do you think it would taste? Do you have a favorite type of food?
  • There are a lot of different colored cars here. Do you have any colored cars? What color car do you have? What color is the car our family drives?
  • It looks like someone painted these colors on the placemat. If you were to paint right now, which color would you want to paint with? What would you like to paint with this color?
  • I really like the color red. It reminds me of strawberries and Spiderman. Can you think of anything else that you like that is the color red? 
  • Have you ever seen a butterfly outside before? What color was it? Can you find a butterfly here that looks like the one you saw outside? 
  • Let's peek out the window and see if we can find any of the colors from this placemat. 
  • When I see the color yellow I feel happy like the sun. Do you feel anything when you see color?
  • If you could paint your room any color, what color would you pick?
  • Close your eyes and I will say a color name. What do you think of when I say the color (blue, brown, etc.)?
  • How many colors can we find in this room?
  • If you were to make your own rainbow what colors would you have in it?