The Zoo Factory

Stuffable Animals

  • Babysitting Tips for Beginners

    Did you just land your first job as a babysitter? Congratulations! While the idea of getting a job (and a paycheck) can be exciting, there are some things that you should be aware of before you walk through the door.

    Ask plenty of questions

    When it comes to babysitting, the old adage rings true: there’s no such thing as a stupid question. Kids can be a little quirky and understanding their habits will leave you better prepared once you’re home alone with them. Even if you don’t think of everything you want to ask on the spot, you should have the parents’ phone numbers on hand so that you can text them when the need arises.

    Reinforce the house rules

    It’s tempting to be the “cool” babysitter who lets the kids stay up past their bedtime, but this is also a surefire way for something to go wrong. There are house rules for a reason, so be sure to stick to them as much as possible. The parents will be grateful, and the kids will soon respect you.

    Have an open line of communication with the parents

    If something bad happens, don’t try to hide it from the parents. It’s best to speak with them frequently and honestly about any issues that pop up. After all, parents know their children better than you do, so they’ll know the right ways to tackle a certain situation.

    Stay organized with a planner

    Whether it’s for one night or several days, you should keep track of everything you have to do and when. Kids perform better under structured environments, and as the babysitter, it’s your job to take care of everything as planned. To do this, keep a planner with you containing such things as nap times, school schedules, food preferences, and more.

    Bring along some entertainment

    While kids will have their own games to play with, it’s not a bad idea to bring some of your own to add to the fun. Board games, video games, movies, and even your own stuffed animals are all great things to spend the time with. Plus, it’ll be fun for you too!

    Looking for some stuffed animals to bring to your next babysitting job? Then look through our inventory here at The Zoo Factory to get started!

  • Are Attachments to Stuffed Animals Healthy?

    Do you have a child that, wherever they go, always seems to be carrying around their favorite stuffed animal? While the image is certainly cute, it may leave you wondering if this level of attachment is healthy for your child. The short answer is, yes, it’s perfectly healthy, but if you want to learn more, then read on to see how stuffed animals truly affect our children.

    Children are less shy

    Stuffed animals are seen as comfort objects, and studies have proven that comfort objects and “imaginary companions” can actually make children feel less shy and more focused. There are two reasons for this. Stuffed animals, acting as comfort objects, can make children feel braver in potentially stressful environments. It’s why firefighters and police officers often give children stuffed animals after a traumatic incident. Children can also practice their social skills on stuffed animals, reading them stories and playing with them just as they would with other children.

    They can even help adults

    Maybe your child is all grown up, and while they don’t carry their stuffed animal wherever they go, they still keep it by their bed at night. Some people believe this is abnormal, and that adults who still have stuffed animals should “grow up.” However, having a stuffed animal by your side can be helpful, easing anxiety, stress, and loneliness. Not to mention that about 40% of American adults still sleep with their stuffed animal, so you’re not alone.

    Emotional attachments to our stuffed animals are perfectly healthy, no matter your age. So, whether you’re looking for a stuffed animal for yourself or for someone special in your life, take a look through our inventory here at The Zoo Factory to get started!

  • Kids’ Birthday Party Ideas

    Whether it’s their first birthday or they’re turning the big 1-0, your kid’s birthday party will be something they always look forward to. You don’t want to disappoint, but you’re also not sure where to start. It can be a lot of pressure, that’s why we’ve gathered some of our favorite birthday party ideas to get you on the right track.

    Obstacle Course Party

    If it’s warm out and you’ve got a big backyard, then why not take advantage of it? An obstacle course party involves you filling your backyard with (you guessed it) obstacle courses for your child and their friends to challenge. Put the kids into teams or have them compete one-on-one to see who can complete it the fastest.

    Dance Party

    If it’s too cold for an obstacle course party (or too much work) then you can go for something simple like a dance party. Clear out one of your larger rooms and then get a playlist together. To add to the excitement, play some games where kids freeze when the music stops, or they have to keep balloons in the air while the music plays.

    Scavenger Hunt

    If you’d like the feel of an obstacle course party but don’t want your party outside, then opt for a scavenger hunt! Hide items around your house, or even around a public place like a mall (just make sure the kids behave themselves). You can have the kids keep what they find, or you can have a special challenge for the birthday boy or girl where they have to find one of their gifts on their own.

    Carnival Party

    Everyone loves the carnival, so why not have one in your own backyard? With balloons, games, and plenty of food, it’ll feel just like the real thing. You can have typical carnival games like balloon pop or gone fishing, or you can get original by incorporating some of the ideas found above.

    Once you have the theme of your party settled, it’s time to get the presents. As you’re deciding on the right present for your child, consider getting them a stuffable animal from The Zoo Factory. Look through our inventory or contact us today to get started!

  • The Best Stuffed Toys from the '90s

    Children these days don’t know what they missed out on during the last two decades of the 20th century. The 1980s had Cabbage Patch Kids and Care Bears. The 1990s had their own trends. Many of these popular ‘90s toys have tried to make a comeback in the past few decades, but it will never be the same as their original debut. Today, The Zoo Factory is taking a trip back in time and covering all of the best-stuffed toys from the ’90s.

    The Secret Keepins Pups

    These plush puppies with tiny tummy compartments served as your most trusted friend during the ’90s. Their promise, “keeping secrets safe for little girls,” remained true by having the ability to lock all your prized possessions and keeping them safe from others. One of the best parts, the wearable charms on their stomachs, snapped off and became the key to opening the secret hiding place.

    Beanie Babies

    Beanie Babies were an iconic plush toy in the ’90s. If you grew up during this time, you most likely had a closet full of these stuffed animals. From bears to iguanas, there were plenty of animals to welcome into your plush family. These collectibles were personalized with their names, and they were a staple piece in every child’s toy chest. Today, some Beanie Babies are resold for thousands of dollars!

    Tickle Me Elmo

    Almost everyone knows of Elmo, the furry red monster, most commonly known for his premier on Sesame Street. In 1996, Tickle Me Elmo was the must-have toy of the year. Elmo danced, laughed, and talked if you tickled it in the right spot. At one point, consumers would do nearly anything to get their hands on the most popular toy of the year.

    Yum Yums

    These multicolored animals smelled like sweet treats. The lineup consisted of Peppymint Kitty, Jumpin’ Jellybean Bunny, Chuckle Chip Bear, and Lucky Lemon Lion. They even released a 1990’s TV special: The Day Things Went Sour. The Yum Yums franchise is still commonly found in Japan.

    Today, some of the most popular ‘90s toys are either no longer around or they’re very hard to find. Nevertheless, that doesn’t mean your children can’t enjoy a stuffed toy of their own. From mystical creatures to aquatic animals from under the sea, we at The Zoo Factory know that you’ll have no problem finding the perfect animal to bring home. Check out our large selection here.

  • 45,000 Stuffed Animals Tossed onto the Ice at Hershey Bears Game

    “It’s raining stuffed animals in chocolate town!”

    These were the words one commentator cheered as 45,000 stuffed animals fell onto the ice at Giant Center, home of the Hershey Bears (the AHL affiliate to the Washington Capitals). In fact, it was a total of 45,650 toys, shattering last year’s record of 34,798.

    The Bears took on the Hartford Wolf Pack. What turned out to be an already thrilling game became even more so as the annual Teddy Bear Toss went underway. Just after the Bear’s scored their first goal, the deluge of stuffed animals began. It delayed the game for 40 minutes, and players took their time diving into piles and batting them with their sticks.

    Teddy Bear Tosses have become a tradition for many hockey teams across the United States and Canada, but the Bears’ record-shattering tosses are perhaps the most well-known. All of the stuffed animals collected from the Bears’ Teddy Bear Toss are donated to 40 local charities, including schools, food banks, churches, lions clubs, as well as the Milton Hershey School, Children’s Miracle Network, and the American Cancer Society. The team also pairs with CommunityAid, a local nonprofit that donates 25 cents per stuffed animal (up to $15,000) for the Children’s Miracle Network.

    As for the game, the Bears won it in overtime, 4-3, making both the children, and their fans, happy this holiday season.

    Nothing brings smiles during the holiday season quite like a teddy bear, and the Teddy Bear Toss continues to impress with displays of generosity each year. If you’d like to donate or gift a teddy bear this Christmas, then take a look at our inventory here at The Zoo Factory.

  • 4 Fun Ideas for a Family Gift Exchange

    We may not always admit it, but exchanging gifts is probably our favorite part about Christmas. No matter your age, there’s always that rush of excitement as you’re opening presents Christmas morning. But why stick to the usual gift opening routine? Instead, consider doing a family gift exchange to add a little bit more fun to your Christmas morning. Here are some ideas to get you started:

    Secret Santa

    Secret Santa is a great way to add a little mystery and intrigue to Christmas. Fill a bowl with names and have each person draw a name. Whoever’s name they draw they have to get a present for, but here’s the catch—they can’t tell the person they’re getting a gift for. Instead, the person must guess who their Secret Santa was after opening their gift. You can even provide clues for people to mull over if they’re having trouble guessing.

    White Elephant

    If Secret Santa provides intrigue, then White Elephant provides competition. With a White Elephant exchange, each person brings a wrapped gift and adds it to a common pool. People then draw numbers to determine what order they can go. When it’s your turn, you get to choose to either pick an unwrapped gift or steal a previous player’s gift. If your gift gets stolen, then you have the option to steal another person’s gift. The game ends when someone declines to steal a gift.

    Grab Bag

    With White Elephant, you compete for your gifts. With grab bag, you leave it up to chance. The rules for grab bag are pretty simple. Place all of your gifts in a bag and then take turns grabbing gifts out of the bag. But no peeking allowed!

    Musical Gifts

    This gift exchange is similar to musical chairs, except it will be the presents moving with the music rather than yourself. Sit in a circle and put on some music. Then start passing a gift along. When the music stops, the gift that is in your hands stays with you.

    If you’re doing a family gift exchange this Christmas, then you’ll want to make sure that you bring the perfect gift. So, why not bring a stuffable animal? Here at The Zoo Factory, we have plenty of stuffable animals for you to choose from. Look through our inventory or contact us for more information.

  • Where to Donate Your Stuffed Animals for the Holidays

    Last week we talked about how you can help children and families in need by organizing a toy drive in your community. There are many of us, however, who don’t have the time to start our own toy drives but still want to help the struggling families in our area. Thankfully, you can do just that by donating some of your families’ stuffed animals. If you’re not sure where to start, here are some places that are always looking for donations, especially during the holiday season.

    Charities

    The most obvious place to start is your local charity. You’ll likely have a Salvation Army or Goodwill location in your neighborhood that will be accepting old toys and stuffed animals. They will then take your stuffed animals and give them directly to a less fortunate child or sell them at their thrift store. As an added bonus, you can also deduct the items you donate on your taxes.

    Hospitals and doctors’ offices

    While charities are usually people’s first choice, your local hospitals and doctors’ offices will also be accepting donations during the holidays. Many of these facilities use these stuffed animals to help their young patients during recovery. Just be sure to check with your local hospital or doctors’ office beforehand, as some don’t accept older items due to the risk of illness.

    Police and fire departments

    In addition to your local hospitals and doctors’ offices, you should also check out your local police and fire departments. Police officers and firefighters often carry stuffed animals with them to comfort traumatized children, so they’re always looking for donations from local families. Call your police or fire departments to see when and where you can donate.

    We at The Zoo Factory want to make sure every child has a happy holiday this year. So, if you would like to learn more about how you can use stuffed animals to help local children in need, then give us a call today at 866-993-3325.

  • 4 Tips for Running a Toy Drive

    The holiday season is upon us, and that means lots of presents, food, and parties to enjoy. Yet, while we will be spending our Christmas day in a warm house surrounded by family and presents, there are just as many who won’t. Struggling families want to give their children as joyful and happy a Christmas as possible, but they need our help to do it. Running a toy drive is just one way you can help the families in your neighborhood this holiday season. Here’s how you can get started:

    Find a charity to work with

    If you want to run a toy drive on your own, there’s certainly nothing stopping you. However, it’s often easier to partner with a local charity in order to help you organize your toy drive and distribute the donations. Good places to start would be your local YMCA, children’s programs, or your local police department.

    Figure out the days, times and location

    The most successful toy drives are typically five days, or one business week. This gives everyone in your community enough time to drop off their donations.

    Publicize it

    In order to get people to come and donate, you need to publicize your event. While you can print out flyers and hand them out, it’s often much easier (and cheaper) to publicize it on social media. Twitter, Facebook, and even Instagram are all excellent avenues for you to promote your toy drive. You can create social media accounts just for your event (this can make it seem more professional, though you’ll start off with less followers), or you can publicize it on your own social media accounts. Be sure to get the help of your friends too to share your posts and spread the word!

    Organize and plan everything

    Your toy drive will likely get a bit chaotic, so make sure that everything is properly organized and planned ahead of time. Have donation bins to sort through all of the donations and have volunteers available for different jobs (collecting the donations, sorting through the donations, etc.).

    Would you like to give a stuffable animal to a child in need? The Zoo Factory can help. Check out our inventory to see how you can start making a difference.

  • Trader Joe’s Biggest Secret? Their Stuffed Animals

    When you walk into a Trader Joe’s, you can find nearly anything that your heart desires. Chocolate? Check. Cheese? Check. Peanut butter? Check. What they don’t typically have are stuffed animals…most of the year.

    Unbeknownst to most of us, from November to December, Trader Joe’s fills its shelves with hidden stuffed animals for kids to find.

    This game of hide-and-seek was revealed on a Reddit thread by a former employee. The practice wasn’t confirmed, however, until TheKitchn spoke with Kendra Friend-Daniel, Trader Joe’s public relations director. “It’s a way to engage with kids in our store,” Friend-Daniel said. “If they locate the hidden stuffed toy, they just let a Crew Member know and they’ll receive a treat.”

    The stuffed toys and treats may vary from store to store, but you can bet that the Trader Joe’s in your area will have a stuffed friend hidden behind the cans of cranberry.

    And this isn’t just a fun activity; it can also be something to help parents survive holiday shopping themselves. We all know the feeling of dragging your kids with you to go food shopping. This is bad on most days, but especially so during the holidays where aisles are crammed with other stressed out parents and kids. But with Trader Joe’s stuffed animal hide-and-seek, food shopping is made fun for both you and your child this holiday season.

    While we won’t be hiding our own stuffable animals in the shelves at Trader Joe’s, we at The Zoo Factory do have plenty of stuffable animals for your child to bring home this holiday season. Take a look through our inventory to get started today!

  • How Stuffed Animals Help Kids with Autism

    If you have a child with autism, then you know how difficult some days can be. Naturally, you want to find ways to make things easier on your child. As it turns out, stuffed animals can be one of these ways. While a stuffed animal is never a replacement for therapy or other doctor-prescribed treatments, they can help alleviate the typical symptoms associated with autism. Here’s how:

    Stuffed animals are great comfort objects

    Whether they’re four years old or forty, many people with autism are easily overwhelmed by the noise and chaos of everyday life. That’s why they often turn to comfort objects that can provide security and some sensory regulation. Stuffed animals can fulfill this role particularly well as they can be held, cuddled, and even weighted to provide children with a sense of calm.

    They can teach play skills

    Studies have shown that autistic children play differently than non-autistic children. They often lack specific play skills such as imitation skills or symbolic play (or pretend play) skills. Instead, they’ll engage in more solitary, repetitive play. Stuffed animals can be useful tools when teaching these valuable play skills through various therapeutic approaches.

    They can help children practice social skills

    Children with autism often struggle with social and communication skills. While they have the desire to interact with others, they usually don’t know how or get overwhelmed when they’re around new people. A stuffed animal, however, can help your child practice those much-needed social skills so that they’re more confident when dealing with other children.

    A stuffed animal may not be the silver bullet, but it can certainly help your child get through each day a little easier. Here at The Zoo Factory we have plenty of stuffable animals that will be perfect for your child. Look through our inventory or contact us today.

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