The Zoo Factory

Stuffable Animals

  • How to Create an Effective Reward System for Your Kids

    Reward systems are a great way to encourage good behavior in our kids. According to psychologist Alan Kazdin, reward systems use “repeated practice” to make good behavior more routine, no matter what age your child is. So, if you’d like to implement a reward system in your home, here are some ways to go about it.

     

    Toddlers and Preschoolers

    When it comes to younger children such as toddlers or preschoolers, a simple sticker chart will usually do the trick. Let them choose their favorite stickers and then give them a sticker to place on a chart every time they exhibit behavior you’d like to encourage. Choose one behavior to work on at a time, keeping the goal simple to start.

    School-Age

    Children who are six years of age or older typically require more motivation than just stickers. You can use a sticker chart to keep track of their good behavior, but you should be giving them a big reward at the end of it. For example, if your child has earned five stickers in a row, you can take them out for some ice cream. If they have a month full of stickers, you can give them an even bigger reward, such as a toy or stuffed animal.

    Teenagers

    Teenagers aren’t going to be motivated by your typical reward system. Instead, you’ll have to think outside of the box. Consider focus on privileges, rather than items. For example, you can let them borrow your car or go out with their friends for the night after they’ve exhibited consistent good behavior.

    Do you want to reward your child for their positive behavior? Then consider getting them a stuffable animal at The Zoo Factory. Look through our inventory or contact us today to get started!

  • How to Disinfect Your Child’s Toys

    Our children’s toys go through a lot. They’re dropped on the ground, put in mouths, and shoved into the bottom of backpacks. As a parent, you want your children to be able to play with their toys, but you also want to make sure that the germs those toys pick up don’t hurt your kids. Indeed, toys can be germ magnets, with bacteria surviving for long periods of time. To best protect our children, then, we need to regularly disinfect their toys. Here’s how:

    Plastic

    For plastic toys that don’t run on batteries, the best way to clean them is by sticking them in the dishwasher. If, however, they do have batteries, then you should handwash them with soap and hot water. This should get rid of most surface dirt and germs, but if the toy needs a more thorough cleaning, then add in some vinegar and baking soda to get the job done. Once you’ve finished washing, be sure to rinse the toy thoroughly and let them dry.

    Wood

    Toys made out of natural wood will warp if you try to place them in a sink full of water. Instead, grab a lint-free cloth and dip it into mild soapy water (such as dish soap or hand soap). Then, wipe the damp cloth along the surface of the wood before drying with a towel. For extremely dirty spots, use rubbing alcohol to break down the remaining dirt and grime.

    Knitted toys

    Knitted toys such as stuffed animals, blankets, or cloth books can either be hand-washed or machine-washed. If you hand-wash the toys, use lukewarm water and detergent. If you decide to machine-wash them, then do so on the gentlest cycle that your washing machine has. For a step-by-step guide on how to wash your stuffed animals, read over our guide here.

    For more tips on how to clean and disinfect your child’s toys, look through our website or contact us today.

  • 4 Things to Do for When Your Kids Are Stuck Inside

    Many parts of the United States have recently been impacted by the coronavirus. In order to protect us, government officials are shutting down large gatherings and closing schools. Unable to go to class or attend games, our kids will likely get bored being stuck at home all day. Here are some things you can do to keep them busy:

    Cook up something good

    Who doesn’t love the taste of home-made cookies in the afternoon? If you’re spending a lot of time at home, then that means more time for you and your children to cook up some great meals and desserts. It’ll also act as a great way to teach your children some cooking skills that will help them later in life. Just be sure to follow these safety rules when cooking in the kitchen with kids.

    Play some games

    Playing games with your kids is a great way to spend some quality time with them and keep them busy at the same time. You can get out some board games such as Monopoly or Twister, or you can play games on their PlayStation or Nintendo Switch. You can even do pretend play with stuffed animal for something more out-of-the-box.

    Arts and crafts

    Tap into your child’s creative side by doing some arts and crafts. You can draw some scenes from nature, paint your favorite animals, or create a scrapbook of all of your favorite family moments. And don’t be afraid to let them get messy—you can always lay down a tarp or a canvas to keep the mess contained.

    Read some books

    If you’re stuck in the house, one of the best things you and your children can do is to read all of those books that have been gathering dust on your shelf. Even if your child isn’t much of a bookworm, now can be an excellent opportunity to get them into reading. Try to find some books that focus on their favorite subjects, making sure that the reading level isn’t too high or low.

    If you’re still looking for things to do in the following weeks, then consider buying a stuffable animal kit from The Zoo Factory. With these kits, you can create your own stuffable animal from the comfort of your own home. Look through our website today to get started.

  • How to Teach Your Child to Share

    “Sharing is caring,” as the old saying goes, but while most of us adults understand this, our children usually don’t. We often struggle to teach them the value of sharing, especially when it comes to their most prized objects—their toys and stuffed animals.

    However, sharing is a vital life skill, and one that we need to teach our children while they’re still young. Here’s how:

    Taking turns

    The best way to introduce the concept of sharing to your child is by teaching them to take turns. If you force a child to share by taking their toy away permanently, they’ll associate sharing with something negative. Instead, by taking turns, your child will be without their toy for a shorter amount of time, teaching them that giving something away doesn’t mean they’re without it forever. To make it fairer, set a timer on your phone so that each child has the toy for an equal amount of time.

    Be a role model

    Our children learn most of their behaviors from us. That means if you’d like them to value sharing, you, too, have to share with others. Practice sharing not only with friends and strangers, but also with your child to drive the point home.

    Praise positive behavior

    It’s easy to scold bad behavior, but many parents often forget to praise good behavior when it happens. If your child just willingly shared one of their toys with a friend or sibling, use descriptive praise to let them know how happy you are. Our children want our approval, and praising their good behavior will make them want to repeat that behavior in the future.

    If your child has received a stuffable animal from The Zoo Factory, make sure that they let other children in on the fun by sharing their new toys with their friends and family! For more tips, look through our site or contact us today.

  • 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!

  • 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!

  • 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!

  • 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.

  • 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!

  • 3 Essential Tips for Traveling with a Stuffed Animal

    If you and the family are heading out on your next trip, then don’t be surprised if your little ones start wanting to bring their favorite stuffed animal along. A stuffed animal traveling companion is always a great thing to have, but you’ll want to take care of it so that your child’s stuffed animal returns home safe and sound.

    Make sure they’re in good condition

    Traveling can really take its toll, both on humans and on stuffed animals. Before you head off on your trip, you’ll want to check the condition of your child’s stuffed animal. If it’s seen better days, then you should plan on fixing it up a few days before you leave.

    Have a separate bag for your stuffed animal

    We’ve all heard the story of a child losing their favorite stuffed animal at the airport. Don’t let your child or their stuffed animal be one of them. While your child may want to hold onto their stuffed animal at all times, it’s often better if you keep them in a bag while you’re moving about. This will prevent your child from dropping it or accidentally leaving it in an airport bathroom. If you’re flying, you can keep the stuffed animal in a carry-on bag or check bag, but it may be better to keep it in a carry on in case your child wants to play with it while they’re on the plane.

    Bring along some clothes for your stuffed animal

    A fun part of your child bringing their stuffed animal along for the trip is having that stuffed animal participate in the activities. To do this, bring along some clothes fitted for your stuffed animal so that they can look the part. For example, if you’re heading to a beach resort, grab a swimsuit for the stuffed animal to wear by the water.

    Looking for a traveling companion for your next family vacation? Then take a look at the stuffable animals and outfits we at The Zoo Factory have today!

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