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Using Stuffed Animals in a Bilingual Household

More and more children in America are growing up in a bilingual household. Back in 2016, 22% of children in the United States spoke a language other than English at home. For parents who want to encourage bilingualism in their children, stuffed animals are a great way to do it. Here’s how:

Stuffed animals and language skills

Even if a child’s stuffed animals don’t have a sound box, they’re still a great way to teach your children different languages. Pretend play allows children to practice the different words and phrases that they’ve learned in front of a non-judgmental audience (i.e. their dolls and stuffed animals). This kind of experimentation can help them practice phrases they’ve learned at home as well as English phrases that they’ve learned at school.

Choose a toy carefully

If you want your child to play with this stuffed animal, you need to make sure that they actually like it first. In that respect, you’ll want to let your child choose the stuffed animal themselves rather than you picking one out for them.

Create a backstory and personality

To make the stuffed animal seem more real, give them a unique backstory and personality. Together with your child, figure out where your toy was “born,” what languages they speak (for example, they can speak both English and the language you speak at home, or they can speak just one of them), and what their likes and dislikes are. Don’t force any of these decisions, but let a stuffed animal’s story come about naturally.

Stand by as a translator

While a stuffed animal can help your child practice their language skills, they may need a helping hand depending on how well they know either language. This means that you should step in as the one talking for the stuffed animal and helping your child out when need be.

We at The Zoo Factory have plenty of stuffable animals that can help to encourage your child’s bilingualism. Look through our site to pick out your child’s new best friend today!

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4 Screen-free, Rainy Day Activities

When you get up on Saturday morning and see rain pattering down on your windows, you’ll realize that a trip to the park is no longer possible. However, you don’t want your child to just stare at the TV screen all day. That’s why we’ve compiled some fun activities you and your child can do when you’re rained in on the weekend.

Indoor camping trip

You may not be able to enjoy the great outdoors, but you can have just as much fun inside with a pretend camping trip. Set up a tent and spread out some pillows and blankets to transform your living room into a comfy camping space. Then, bring down some books, snacks, crayons, and other toys for you to spend your time with. And don’t forget to bring your child’s favorite stuffed animal along for the trip!

Bake some sweets

A great way to warm up the house and fill your stomachs is to bake some delicious sweets. You can do something simple like chocolate chip cookies, or you can spend the entire day working on a cake for the family. Just be sure to keep your children safe while they’re in the kitchen.

Teddy bear picnic

Similar to having an indoor camping trip, you can also bring the outdoor fun inside with a teddy bear picnic. Get some snacks and drinks together and then gather all of your child’s stuffed animals (teddy bears or otherwise) around the picnic blanket. You can even plan additional activities such as hide and seek or an animal fashion show to keep things interesting!

Get creative

If your child loves arts and crafts, then break out some of the crayons and paints you have around your house. You want your child to have fun, so don’t be afraid to get a little messy. Just lay down a tarp or a plastic cover to protect your belongings from accidental paint spills.

As fun as all of these activities can be, they can’t be done without a trusty stuffed animal sidekick. So, if your child is in need of a stuffed animal of their own, then check out the stuffable animals here The Zoo Factory today!

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How Stuffed Animals Benefit Babies and Toddlers

As infants, a few of the first things we grow attached to are our mothers, fathers, and in many cases, stuffed animals. We form bonds with them almost instantaneously, and they shape our perceptions of the world as we wield these tools for learning and interaction.

One of the greatest gifts we can give a newborn baby or toddler is a stuffed animal, and here’s why:

Teaching about the world

When you give an infant a stuffed animal, you may not know it, but you are teaching them about the world. Stuffed animals can be used to classify different animals, such as reptiles and aquatic creatures. Not only do these toys introduce your baby or toddler to the animal kingdom, but they can also help them process and understand human emotion and sensory details such as texture and color.

What to look for in your baby’s first stuffed animal

When choosing your baby’s first stuffed animal, you will want to keep a few things in mind. Try to avoid animals with long fur or removable parts, as babies can easily choke on these. If giving your child a stuffed animal is sentimental to you, you may want to opt for a stuffed animal that your toddler can hold onto once they are of preschool age. At this age, your child is beginning to develop more of an active imagination, and will likely want to interact with their stuffed animal even more.

At the Zoo Factory, we encourage imaginative play, whether you’re 3, 15, or 67! We’re never too young or too old to connect with our inner child. Take a look through our inventory to find the perfect stuffable animal for your child today!

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Are Stuffed Animals Safe for Dogs?

Much like ourselves, our dogs love stuffed animals, but are they safe for them to play with? In general, yes, stuffed animals are perfectly safe and there is little threat to letting our dogs play around with them. However, as with anything, there are a few extra precautions that you need to take in order to keep your four-legged friends safe.

Beware of plastic

Some stuffed animals carry plastic parts, and if your dog accidentally ingests these, it could cause them serious harm. Buttons are typically made of plastic, so you’ll want to remove these as soon as possible. Eyes and noses can also be made of plastic, but not always. If you’re planning on giving your dog a stuffed animal, then, you should get one where the eyes and nose are made out of a thread instead.

Get a toy that’s slightly larger than your dog’s mouth

Your dog will be carrying that stuffed animal around in its mouth quite a bit. If a stuffed animal is too small, then the entire thing may end up in your dog’s mouth, making it harder for them to play with it. It will also cause your dog’s saliva to get all over the toy, resulting in a build up of bacteria. A dog’s toy should be just slightly larger than their mouth. This will allow them to grip it well without it falling into their mouth.

Check to see when repairs are needed

This stuffed animal will be put through the ringer. It will be chewed on, played with, and who knows what else. Without maintenance, the stuffed animal could be ripped open, causing your dog to accidentally ingest the filling. To prevent this, inspect the toy every now and then for any wear and tear, fixing any problem areas as soon as possible.

Here at The Zoo Factory, we offer stuffable animals that are safe for dogs and humans alike. Look through our inventory or contact us today to learn more.

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The Benefits of Pretend Play

As our children play with their dolls, stuffed animals, or even their Legos, imaginary worlds start to form. Dolls are given names and occupations; stuffed animals take on personalities of their own; and Legos create castles and magical worlds for their toys to inhabit. This form of pretend play is fun on its own, but it is also crucial to our children’s development in several ways.

Creativity and critical thinking skills

The power of imagination is truly something to behold. With pretend play, our children’s imagination can run wild, and this can help foster creativity and critical thinking skills. It helps your child learn how to think “outside of the box,” a key skill that will help them for years to come.

Language skills

The English language is tough; even us adults mess it up sometimes! That’s why it’s best to get in as much practice as possible at a young age. With pretend play, your children are given the opportunity to practice their language skills in front of a non-judgmental audience (namely, their dolls and stuffed animals). By role playing as different characters, they can practice words and phrases they’re starting to learn about in the real world.

Social skills

In addition to practicing their language skills, children can also practice their social skills. Especially for children who are shy around strangers, pretend play gives them an opportunity to play with other children and have conversations. Plus, by giving their dolls or stuffed animals a life of their own, they can learn to be more empathetic towards others.

The benefits of pretend play cannot be overstated. Not only does it make your child more creative and communicative, but also more empathetic towards their peers. So, what are you waiting for? Grab a stuffable animal from The Zoo Factory to get started!