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Importance of Donating Stuffed Animals

Kids volunteers sorting toys, clothes, books, donation goods in donate charity boxes indoors

Many children grow up with an abundance of stuffed animals, and all of them are their very best friends. Children acquire them from relatives, grandparents, holidays, festivals, carnivals, and more. However, many children that live in poverty don’t receive the large number of stuffed animals that others do, missing out on the benefits that come with having a stuffed friend to love.

Consider talking to your children about donating old stuffed animals, or stuffed animals that they don’t play with to children in need.

Donate to a Shelter

If you have a local shelter that struggling families can access, consider donating stuffed animals there. As hard as it is to accept, there are children that spend a lot of their childhood living out of local shelters. A simple stuffed animal can bring them comfort and joy during a difficult time and provide them with company when they feel alone.

Donate to Charities

If you’re not sure which local charities might accept your gently used stuffed animals, look for services like Donation Town. This website will match you with charities in your area based on your zip code and the items you want to donate. Many charities including Salvation Army, Habitat for Humanity, and Hope Services are likely interested in your stuffed animal donations to give them to a child in need.

Things to Keep in Mind

After a time of crisis, like right after a natural disaster, donation centers are often looking for necessities. However, if families have lost everything, they might be grateful for a stuffed animal that can serve as a comfort to their child. Don’t hesitate to reach out to local charities and see what types of items that they might benefit from. Always wash stuffed animals before you donate them.

Looking to create a brand new teddy bear or stuffed animal for your child or for a child in need? Make your own stuffed animal with Stuffable Animal Kits from The Zoo Factory, LLC.

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Tips on Cleaning Teddy Bears

teddy bear on clotheline with baby clothes

If you haven’t yet cleaned the teddy bear that your child sleeps with on a night basis, you’re not alone. Washing stuffed animals can be a hassle and many children don’t want to part with their teddy, period. Thankfully, there are ways to easily clean your child’s teddy bear without ruining it.

Check the Tag

Many stuffed animals are machine-washable (including ours), but you should always check a stuffed animal’s tag for washing instructions. If it doesn’t indicate washing instructions, you can usually get away with a cold wash on a delicate cycle or soaking it in cold water with detergent.

Use a Garment Bag


A garment bag typically protects a teddy’s plushness, making sure that it doesn’t get harmed in the washing machine. This can often allow you to wash it with other items, but we suggest washing teddy alone in order to be sage! If you don’t have a garment bag, you can use a pillow case that zips closed as an alternate.


Allow a Natural Dry


The dryer can be a little hard on teddy’s fur, instead, place teddy somewhere comfortable (preferably outside) to air dry. Make sure the teddy is completely dry before you returning it your child. A teddy that gets soaked might be damp on inside which can result in a build-up of bacteria. If you have a hair dryer, use that to speed the drying process and to ensure the inside of the bear gets dried too.


Consider a Spot Clean


If teddy has a tendency to stick his foot in spaghetti sauce or toothpaste, most of these stains can be easily spot cleaned. Use a damp cloth along with a blotting method to remove stains and spots. If water isn’t doing the job, use a tiny drop of detergent and use a clean damp cloth to remove the detergent from the toy.


Looking for another stuffed animal to add to the family? Make your own stuffed animal with Stuffable Animal Kits from The Zoo Factory. With dozens of fun, soft animals to choose from, your child can pick out his or her new favorite friend and toy. 

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How to Keep a Large Family Christmas Celebration Simple

family having christmas dinner

We want to celebrate Christmas with everyone we care about. However, if you have a large family, Christmas gatherings can quickly become unwieldy. But it doesn’t have to be this way. You can have a simple celebration even with a large family. Here are a few tips to help:

Don’t buy a gift for everyone

In large families, it’s almost impossible to buy everyone a gift. Not only do you not have the time, but you likely don’t have the money as well. Nevertheless, you still want to do something. So, consider doing a gift exchange where everyone only gets a present for one other person. Games like Secret Santa or White Elephant are great ways to accomplish this.

Delegate, delegate, delegate

As much as this may bother your inner control freak, it’s important that you learn to delegate during this time. No one can host a large family celebration by themselves. Even if you’re the one hosting, make sure that everyone in the family has a job to do. This could range from bringing appetizers for Christmas day or helping set up the table for dinner.

Meet up together only once

Some families try to gather multiple times during the Christmas season, specifically on Christmas Eve and then again on Christmas Day. However, this can be hard on the host and difficult to arrange for everyone else. To keep things simple, only gather together once, and don’t stay all day.

Don’t buy a gift for everyone

In large families, it’s almost impossible to buy everyone a gift. Not only do you not have the time, but you likely don’t have the money as well. Nevertheless, you still want to do something. So, consider doing a gift exchange where everyone only gets a present for one other person. Games like Secret Santa or White Elephant are great ways to accomplish this.

Of course, rules will be different for the kids. You should always buy presents for the younger children in your family. For options, look through our shop today at The Zoo Factory!

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Top 3 Tips for Christmas Shopping with Your Kids

mother christmas shopping with her two daughters

Most years, you do your Christmas shopping alone. But suddenly your babysitter has the flu, and your spouse has a work commitment. It’s up to you, then, to both shop for Christmas and keep track of your kids. This is no easy feat, but it can be accomplished with fewer tantrums as possible. Read on to learn more:

Bring a backpack filled with essentials

Christmas shopping can take the whole day, and at some point during that day, your kids may get tired, thirsty, hungry, or bored. This is often where many of the tantrums and outbursts begin. So, make sure you’re prepared by bringing a backpack full of essentials while you’re shopping. This should include the following:

  • Snacks
  • Water bottles
  • Phones, games, toys, and/or video games for your children to play with

Share your expectations

Younger kids may not know the proper rules and etiquette of shopping malls. So, it’s important to lay down some ground rules and share your expectations with your kids. Remind them that they cannot scream, shout, or run around in a shopping mall. Additionally, they need to stay by your side at all times. If they understand this, then they’ll be less likely to act out.

Reward them at the end

Shopping can take a lot out of even the most well-behaved child. So, be sure to reward your kids at the end of the day with a trip to their favorite store or restaurant. You can even tell them in the beginning that if they behave well, then they’ll be rewarded.

As you’re shopping, keep an eye out for what your kids seem interested in, as this can help you shop for them as well! If you notice them wandering towards the stuffed animals, then be sure to get them a lovable, stuffed animal from The Zoo Factory! Look through our shop today to get started.

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What Is Phonics?

young girl reading to stuffed animal

Phonics is the relationship between letters and sounds. In fact, you’re using phonics as you’re reading this blog post. But let’s break it down for you.

Think of the word “big.” How do you know what that word sounds like just by looking at it? Because at some point in your life, you were taught that “big” means large, but you probably didn’t yet know how to spell it. When you went to school, though, you learned that individual sounds are represented by individual letters. As such, you realized that the individual letters /b/ /i/ and /g/, when put together, create a series of sounds that equate to the word “big.”

If you’re the parent of a young child just starting school, then this is exactly what they’re learning when their teacher talks about phonics. But how is it taught?

How is phonics taught?

There is more than one way to teach phonics, and your child’s teacher will likely be using a variety of techniques. Some of the most common are as follows:

  • Analytical phonics: With this method, children analyze letter-sound relations to avoid pronouncing sounds in isolation.
  • Analogy phonics: This technique has children analyze unknown words and see how they compare to known words in order to figure out their pronunciation.
  • Synthetic phonics: This approach teaches students to convert letters into sounds, and then blend those sounds to form words.
  • Embedded phonics: With this method, phonics instruction is given while reading a text instead of as a separate lesson.

Here at The Zoo Factory, we know that children need a partner when they’re learning how to read and write. Stuffed animals can be the perfect partner. Look through our shop today to find your child’s new best friend today!

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How to Help Your Child Transition into a New School

mother talking to daughter as she waits for schoolbus

Our kids are likely comfortable in the school they’re in. They have friends there, they know the teachers, and they’ve likely been in that school district for several years. However, some kids don’t always stay in the same school district until they’re 18. They might end up in a new school because their family moved or because they can get a higher quality education at another school.

Whatever the reason for it, changing schools is never easy. That’s why we’ve put together some tips to help your child transition into a new school:

Let them be anxious

As parents and caregivers, it’s never easy to watch our children get stressed or anxious. However, changing schools is a stressful endeavor, and trying to get rid of your child’s anxiety will just, counterintuitively, make it worse. Instead, it’s better to acknowledge your child’s emotions and to let them work through those emotions in their own way.

That doesn’t mean you can’t take steps to reduce your child’s stress (more on that below), just that your child can be open about what they’re feeling and be comforted by the fact that it’s perfectly normal to be nervous.

Explain why they’re changing schools

Most children don’t want to change schools. They’re comfortable in what they know, and they enjoy spending time with their friends at their current school. So, simply telling your child that they have to go to a new school might make them resist the change even more. By explaining to them why they’re going to a new school, they may accept the idea more.

Take them to the school ahead of time

Children are often nervous going to a new school because they’re afraid of the unknown. Thankfully, you can help reduce their stress by making the school a more familiar place. You can do this by scheduling a tour and having your child meet their new teachers before the school year starts. Doing so will help cut back on the number of things your child has to worry about.

Changing schools can be a stressful time, so make sure your child has a few sources of comfort by their side. A lovable, stuffed animal may be just the thing to help your child through the transition. Look through our website to find the perfect stuffed animal for your child today!

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How to Help Build Your Child’s Vocabulary

parents talking to toddler at dinner table

Children are constantly learning. When they speak their first words, that’s the result of months’ worth of learning and observing. However, it takes much more time for them to get a full grasp of their native language. The rate at which children learn new words after they’ve begun to talk can vary, and much of that variation depends on what their parents do to help them learn. Here, we discuss some ways you can help your child build their vocabulary so that they can begin expressing themselves.

Narrate what you’re doing

Children learn new words by watching and listening to their caregivers. This doesn’t mean just when you’re directly speaking to them; children will also learn when they watch you going about your day. By narrating what you’re doing in the moment, you are introducing new words into your child’s vocabulary. For instance, if your child is sitting at the table while you’re setting the table, you can say something along the lines of: “And now it’s time to put down the plates. Next are the glasses, and then the napkins.” By using this technique, also known as self-talk, your child has just learned the words “plates,” “glasses,” and “napkins.”

Narrate what your child is doing

This is similar to what we explained before, but instead of narrating what you’re doing, you narrate what your child is doing. This technique is known as parallel talk. It’s best used when your child is fully engaged in an activity, such as playing with their stuffed animals. For example, if your child is placing a tea party set in front of their teddy bear, you may say to them, “Oh, I see you’re setting up a tea party for your teddy bear.”

Read to your child (and encourage them to read by themselves)

Reading is perhaps the best and most effective way of building your child’s vocabulary. By reading a wide variety of books, your child will be exposed to thousands of different words. Of course, it takes time for children to learn to read. That’s why it’s important for parents to read to them even when they’re infants. As your child gets older, you can instill a love of reading and encourage them to read by themselves.

Stuffed animals can be a great partner when trying to help your child build up their vocabulary. Look through our website to find the perfect stuffed animal for your little one today!

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3 Tips on Choosing the Perfect Stuffed Animal for Your Little One

smiling girl playing with teddy bear

The holiday season is quickly approaching and soon, parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles will be searching for gifts for the children in their lives. In most cases, you can never go wrong with a stuffed animal. But how do you choose the right one for each of the special children on your list?

Classic Style

Think back to the childhood stuffed animal you shared all of your greatest adventures with. Chances are it was a classic teddy bear or another soft and snuggly animal like a rabbit or a dog. We recommend choosing a similar stuffed animal friend for your little one.


Sure, all of our children love the fun characters they watch on T.V., but it is unlikely that their adoration for this particular character will last. This is why a classic stuffed animal makes such a perfect gift. They will never go out of style, giving them the potential to remain your child’s best friend for years to come.

Neutral Color

Not sure what color stuffed animal your child will love most? Instead of choosing a bright color or wild pattern, opt for a neutral, natural color like brown or tan. This way, your child will be able to make their own choices with the stuffed animal, dressing then in fun costumes and clothing that match their own personal style.

Cuddly Soft

Another important factor when it comes to finding the perfect stuffed animal is how soft it is! Your child will want a stuffed animal friend that they can hug and snuggle when they need some extra support. And with a Zoo Factory stuffable animal, you will be able to choose exactly how much stuffing you use to create that cuddly feel!

As the holiday draw near and you start your shopping, head to The Zoo Factory to select the perfect stuffed animals (and outfits) from our online selection. We have everything you need to make this holiday season a special one for the children in your life.

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How Children Benefit from Playing with Teddy Bears

child playing with teddy bear on floor

Whether your child is just learning to walk or is conquering their first year of elementary school, they are sure to have a favorite toy. It may be a doll or an action figure, but more likely than not, it is a stuffed teddy bear. And looking back on your own childhood, one of your fondest friends was probably a stuffed animal as well.

Why? It may have to do with the benefits that a stuffed teddy bear friend can provide. From word recognition to emotional discovery, these benefits begin when your child is a baby and continue on throughout their school years.

Practicing life skills

Playing with teddy bears and other stuffed animal friends allows our children to practice the life skills they are constantly learning, role playing with their stuffed animals and teaching them how to perform tasks like brushing their teeth and getting dressed for school.


Teddy bears also provide an early form of socialization. Whether your child is having a tea party with all their favorite stuffed animals or is the teacher in a school filled with fluffy rabbit, dog and teddy bear students, there are endless opportunities to learn good behavior.

Inspire learning

Even as our children get older, introducing them to wild and exotic stuffed animal friends – like crocodiles, hippos and gorillas – is a way to inspire learning. When they have a new and unique animal hanging out with them every day, they are sure to want to learn more about the creatures and the habitat it resides in in the wild!

Searching for a new stuffed animal for your child? Why not make the introduction of their new friend even more exciting by letting them stuff their teddy bear all on their own? Here at The Zoo Factory we offer a wide variety of stuffable animals, along with clothing and party packages for birthdays and other special events!

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Tips on Hosting a Teddy Bear Tea Party

Outdoor photo of teddy bear sitting at yard and having english breakfast

There are few things in the world as beautiful as the imagination of a child. If your child is eager to imagine, embrace it!

A great way to encourage imaginative play, which can come with various benefits, is to help your child throw a teddy bear tea party. Here are a few ways to get started:

Think As a Child

In order to start preparing for a teddy bear tea party, it is important to get into the mind of your child. Allow your child to inspire you. Sit down with your child and help them brainstorm party ideas. Make sure you listen to them, consider which ideas you can truly make happen for them. For example, if they want to serve chicken fingers, embrace it!

Maybe they want a party complete with fancy dresses and top hats, or a more casual tea party with pajamas and a few favorite books. Don’t forget to invite a few favorite teddy bears to the brainstorming session; after all, the party is for them!

Do the Work Together

Consider letting your child “host” their teddy bear tea party which will give them an opportunity to prepare for something. Take a trip to your favorite store to choose some affordable decorations. Use markers and papers at home to create several invitations. Let your child help you prepare a simple cookie recipe and assign them the job of “head taste tester.”

Before the party begins, let your child go get ready for their party as you take care of the final touches.

Be Sure to Celebrate

Don’t be afraid to let yourself go and join in on the fun. Once you and your child have prepared the party, it’s time to sit down with their favorite teddy bear friends and take it all in. Watch them imagine and simply follow their lead. Most of all, don’t forget to capture a few photos of what will certainly be a priceless memory. Free yourself up to completely dive into your child’s world and enjoy, you’ll be glad you did.

Hoping to expand the guest list? Visit The Zoo Factory for all different kinds of animals eager to come to the next tea party!