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How to Make the Most Out of Hand-Me-Downs

How to Make the Most Out of Hand-Me-Downs

As a parent now yourself, you understand the value of hand-me-downs and how much they can save your wallet. However, they can also be controversial with your children, as older children might not want to give away their old toys and younger children might feel like they’re getting the short end of the stick.  

Here’s how you can make the most out of hand-me-downs while keeping all of your children happy: 

Let your oldest child decide what they’re willing to give away 

Don’t just walk into your eldest’s closet and decide what to pass down to their younger sibling. Instead, involve them in the process by letting them choose what items they’re willing to give to their baby brother or sister. As you’re doing so, inspect each piece to make sure that they’re in good shape. If they’re not, you can either throw them away or donate them. 

Then let your youngest pick out what they want 

Once your eldest has picked out a collection of old toys or clothes that they’re willing to give away, let your youngest come in and decide what they want from the pile. If they start groaning at the idea of wearing old clothing or playing with old toys, try to personalize the older items. For instance, you can get new pins to put onto an old backpack, or a new outfit to put onto an old doll. If there is anything that your child doesn’t want, don’t force it on them. It will simply stay tucked away in their closet, never to be used. Instead, donate the unwanted items to families in need. 

Still get new items once in a while 

Most children won’t complain too much about receiving hand-me-downs, but they will start complaining if that’s all that they receive. A child still needs toys and clothing that are their own, and no matter what you do, a hand-me-down will always be seen as their older sibling’s property. So, be sure to give your youngest some new toys or clothing that is just their own every now and then to remind them that they’re just as special to you as their older siblings. 

One new thing that you can give your youngest child (or your eldest!) is a stuffable animal from The Zoo Factory. Look through our inventory to get started! 

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4 Tips for Spring Cleaning with Kids

4 Tips for Spring Cleaning with Kids

Spring isn’t just the time to trade out your sweaters for your t-shirts; it’s also a chance to clean out your home. Spring cleaning can seem overwhelming when you’re doing it just for yourself, but even more so when you have your kids involved. They may not want to get rid of that toy truck (even though they haven’t touched it in a year), or they may not want to help out at all. That’s why we’ve put together these spring cleaning tips for parents: 

Start small 

Don’t think that you can clean out your house all in one day. Instead, start small. Tackle one room each day and make your child’s task simple (such as separating the toys that they do want from the toys that they don’t want by placing them into buckets).  

Give your child’s toys a good home 

Your kids may resist giving up any of their toys, even if they haven’t touched a majority of those toys in months. To avoid this, find organizations where you could donate the toys to. This will emphasize that the toys are going to a good home to children in need instead of the garbage bin. 

Find some storage space 

There may be some items that you and your child will want to keep but may not have room for. Things such as artwork, their first blankie, or other types of sentimental items can be stored away in bins so that you can still hang onto them, but they’re not taking up as much space.  

Make it fun 

Spring cleaning doesn’t have to be a tiring chore, it can be fun if you set your mind to it. Put on some music, or make it a competition to see how many toys you and your child can find and donate in a day. You can also encourage them by giving them a prize at the end of it, such as ice cream, a trip to the zoo, or even a new toy. Tell them that if they get rid of their old toys, they’ll have more room for new ones.  

If you’ve cleaned out your house and find that you have a little bit more room, then a stuffable animal from The Zoo Factory can be a great reward. Look through our website to get started! 

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How to Work From Home With Kids

How to Work From Home With Kids

As much as we love our kids, they’re not great for productivity. Working from home can be hard on its own, but working from home while also caring for your kids is a whole other ballgame. Many parents are struggling to meet the expectations put upon them, and while this time in our lives will not be easy, there are ways to ease the burden. 

Create a schedule 

With so much going on in our lives, it really is important to structure our day so that we can at least try to get everything done that we planned for. Set “office” hours for when you can work (mostly) undisturbed. It doesn’t have to be one big block of time, instead you can break it up throughout the day (for instance, if your child has just gone down for a nap, you can run off to do some work before they wake up). If there are two parents in the household, alternate your work hours so that one parent is keeping an eye on the kids while the other is working. 

Talk with your boss 

Even if you create the most efficient schedule in the world, there will be times when you just can’t stick to it. Maybe your child is sick, or maybe they’re having a temper tantrum. These things need to be dealt with first, and your work dealt with second. This can cause you to work fewer hours or be less productive during work hours. Instead of scrambling, hoping that your boss doesn’t notice, be upfront with them about your current situation. Most will likely be understanding, and they’ll find ways to help you cope. 

Find activities that don’t require supervision 

If you want to get any work done, you will have to let your kids fend for themselves for a few hours in the day. The best way to do this is to find activities that don’t require adult supervision. Here are a few ideas you can try: 

  • Reading 
  • Playing video games 
  • Watching TV shows, movies, or YouTube videos (keeping it educational if you can) 
  • Playing with their dolls or stuffed animals 
  • Naptime 
  • Arts and crafts 

Of course, one way to keep your children occupied throughout the day is letting them play around with their stuffable animals. Here at The Zoo Factory, we have plenty of stuffable animals that we’re sure your child will love. Look through our website or contact us today with any questions or concerns! 

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How to Throw a “Make Your Own Stuffed Animal” Party Over Zoom

How to Throw a "Make Your Own Stuffed Animal" Party Over Zoom

Social distancing is here to stay, and for the spring and summer birthday kids out there, this can be a real bummer. While we can’t host in-person parties anymore, we can host virtual parties over Zoom. Throwing a virtual birthday party can be just as fun as a normal birthday party as long as you get enough activities to keep your guests occupied.  

One activity that many parents are turning to for their children’s zoom parties is making your own stuffed animals. Here’s how you can get started: 

Keep the guest list smaller

Technically, you can have hundreds of people join a Zoom conversation, but if you want everyone to stay involved, it’s best to cap your guest list at 10 people. This is because on a video chat, you can’t turn to the person next to you and have a side conversation. By keeping the guest list smaller, however, you can ensure that everyone can take part in the conversation and that things don’t get too rowdy. 

Have the guests pick out their favorite animals 

Once you have a guest list, send out a quick email or text message asking everyone to pick out their favorite animal from our website. If you’re wanting to order one of our party packs, then have your guests vote on which packs they’d prefer. 

Send the stuffable animal kits out a few weeks in advance 

Be sure to order and ship the kits at least a few weeks ahead of time so that there’s plenty of time for the kits to reach their final destination. It typically takes about a week for our stuffable animal kits to be delivered, but there have been shipping delays due to the coronavirus. 

Send instructions and a calendar invite 

Don’t assume that every parent is tech-savvy. Instead, have a detailed set of instructions for what your guests need to do in order to access the Zoom party (Zoom has a help center that you can go to as well). At the same time, send them an invite through Outlook, Google Calendars, or other platforms so that they’re reminded of the party ahead of time. 

We may have to stay socially distant, but that doesn’t mean we can’t still have fun. If you’re planning on throwing a “make your own stuffed animal” party, then take a look at some of our party kits or contact us here at The Zoo Factory with any questions you may have! 

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Thanking Those on the Front Lines: Stuffed Animals for Health Care Workers

The coronavirus has put a tremendous strain on families, forcing children to stay away from friends and making parents do double-duty by working from home and babysitting at the same time. However, no matter our own struggles, they are nothing compared to what health care workers are dealing with on a daily basis. 

Many health care workers are working long hours under dangerous conditions in order to keep this pandemic under control, and it’s important that we show our support in any way that we can. 

For some the means donating supplies, volunteering at hospitals, or simply practicing social distancing. You can also show your appreciation through stuffed animals. Stuffed animals have always been used as a way to say thank you to those we care for, but they can be especially helpful during times of crisis. Why? Because they’re not only a thoughtful gift, but they can also provide someone with a great source of emotional comfort. It has been proven time and time again that stuffed animals can help people cope with trauma and companionship, and this can be especially helpful for those working on the front lines of this crisis. 

While not all of us are able to volunteer or donate supplies, but we can show our appreciation through stuffed animals. They can be sent to one particular nurse who helped someone you love recover from COVID-19, or it could be to an entire hospital staff. Either way, it is a simple, but thoughtful way of saying thank you to those risking everything to get us through this crisis. 

At The Zoo Factory, we offer both individual stuffed animals and party packs that are already pre-stuffed and ready to ship out to any local hospital or medical office. To learn more, look through our website or contact us with any questions or concerns. 

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How to Support Your Kids During the COVID-19 Outbreak

The coronavirus has completely upended our lives, causing stress and anxiety for everyone, no matter their age. As parents, however, you have the extra responsibility of not only keeping your anxiety in check, but also the anxiety of your children as well. You don’t want them to worry, but you also want them to take things seriously. 

If you’re not sure where to begin, then here a few ways you can support your kids during the COVID-19 outbreak: 

Talk to them honestly 

If you keep your kids in the dark, they’ll only grow more anxious. As such, you should speak honestly with them, answering any questions that they have. You don’t want to make them more nervous, and some details they may not be able to understand, so only answer the questions that they have, and try to keep your answers short and simple. The CDC also has guidelines that you can follow on how best to speak with your children about the coronavirus outbreak. 

Stick to your normal schedule as much as possible 

Children take comfort in routine, especially during times of crisis. While you won’t be able to stick to the exact schedule you had before the pandemic (after all, most children are not going to school at this time), you should still have them getting up and going to bed at the same time. Other daily traditions such as family dinners should also take place to give a sense of normalcy. 

Don’t let them get bored 

Without school or sports, our kids will likely run out of things to do pretty quickly. With so much time to themselves, they will likely get bored, which will only stress them out even further. So, try to keep them distracted with board games, video games, arts and crafts, books, or pretend play activities with their dolls and stuffed animals. 

Here at The Zoo Factory, our selection of stuffable animals can be a great source of comfort to children during these stressful times. Take a look through our inventory or contact us with any questions or concerns. 

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The Value of Transitional Objects During the Coronavirus Outbreak

We all grew up with that favorite blanket or teddy bear. We’d sleep with it, eat with it, and drive around in the car with it. These transitional objects were a great source of joy and comfort to us in our early years, but in the time of coronavirus, they have become increasingly important both to our children. 

What are transitional objects? 

Transitional objects, also known as comfort objects, are a doll, stuffed animal, blanket, or other type of object that provides psychological comfort to a child. They’re typically that security blanket or teddy bear that your child will not let go of, no matter how hard you try. They’re called transitional objects because they help children transition from being completely dependent on their parents (typically their mother) to becoming more independent.  

Transitional objects and coronavirus 

So why, exactly, are transitional objects useful during the coronavirus outbreak? Simply put, they help to ease anxiety, both during normal times and during times of crisis. Explains Dr. Daniel Lewin: “Children have less capacity in some cases to express their fears than adults. Transitional objects are wonderful ways for children to express them.” 

The coronavirus outbreak has caused a lot of uncertainty, and as a result, a lot of anxiety. Even if our children don’t completely understand what is happening, they can pick up on the anxiety and stress of their parents. Transitional objects, however, can provide comfort to children while also helping them work through their own emotions about this crisis.  

Here at The Zoo Factory, our selection of stuffable animals can be a great source of comfort to children during these stressful times. Take a look through our inventory or contact us with any questions or concerns. 

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How ‘Bear Hunts’ Are Distracting Kids Amidst the Coronavirus Outbreak

Take a walk around the neighborhood and what do you see? Empty streets, shuttered businesses, and cars lining their driveways. However, if you take a closer look, you may see something sitting by a window: a teddy bear. 

From the United States to France to Japan, individuals are placing teddy bears in their windows or in their yards as part of a worldwide ‘bear hunt’ for kids.

Essentially a social distancing form of a scavenger hunt, the game is meant to distract kids from the current stresses of the coronavirus pandemic. Unable to go to school or play games with their friends, most kids can only go out for walks or drives around the neighborhood with their families. So, individuals have started placing teddy bears in their windows, on their porches, or in their parked cars to encourage kids to get out of the house and see how many teddy bears they can find.  

In Monmouth, Maine, one parent told her local TV station that the teddy bear hunts help distract her kids from the current crisis: “For about an hour we didn’t think about anything else that was happening in the world. It was just about the bears. The kids sat in the back seat. My daughter kept a tally. We kept looking, and it was only that, and I had completely forgotten what was going on until we pulled back into the yard.” 

If you’d like to participate, it’s as simple as grabbing a stuffed animal (teddy bear or otherwise) and placing it somewhere in your house or yard where it’s visible from the street. You can put it in your window, or you can get more creative like this family who had their teddy bears doing activities out in the yard. 

Don’t have any stuffed animals to place in your windows? The Zoo Factory has you covered. We have a wide range of stuffable animals, including teddy bears, for you to choose from. Take a look through our inventory or contact us with any questions! 

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How to Use Stuffed Animals in the Classroom

Not only can stuffed animals benefit our children at home, but they can also work wonders in the classroom. They can make excellent educational tools, teaching our children important skills that will help them for years to come.

If you’re a teacher or tutor, here are some ways you can use stuffed animals in your own classroom:

Class mascot

A cuddly and unique stuffed animal can make the perfect class mascot. Mascots create a sense of belonging, uniting everyone in the class and representing diverse classrooms as a solidified unit. Class mascots make kids excited to go to school every day, giving them something fun to look forward to. These special class heroes can increase classroom morale with minimal effort.

Reading partner

Stuffed animals serve as the perfect audience for reading practice. Letting students read books out loud to stuffed animals allows them to practice reading comprehension and fluency while minimizing nerves. Reading with a non-judgmental stuffed animal causes an increase in confidence (and fun!) for young students.

Offer recognition and reward

Kids love positive recognition and rewards for appropriate behaviors and actions. Use stuffed animals in the classroom as a tool for rewarding students for following your classroom rules. For example, let a student that demonstrates good manners sit with a stuffed animal on their desk during class. If a student does a particularly good job with reading something out loud or mastering other course content, let them pick out a stuffed animal to carry around for the day.

There is no shortage of fun ways to use stuffed animals in the classroom! Find teddy bears, unicorns, sea creatures, farm animals, and more at The Zoo Factory.

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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!