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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!

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What Is Sittervising?

young parents watching their children play in the living room

If you’re a parent on any kind of social media platform, you may have seen the term “sittervising” thrown around. But what does this mean? And is this a good parenting technique? Here, we go into the details.

Sittervising—explained

The term sittervising may be new, but the technique is not. First coined by blogger Susie Allison of Busy Toddler, it describes how parents sit down and supervise their kids playing, but do not intervene. There’s a bit of distance between the parent and the children, allowing kids space to explore and become independent without feeling like their parents are hovering over them.

Of course, the term has the word “sitting,” in it, but you don’t have to sit and watch your kids. You can be off in another room, or doing some other type of work while your kids play. Kids should be in ear-shot, but you don’t need to be checking on them constantly.

Should you practice sittervising?

According to Allison, sittervising can benefit both parents and kids. “In sittervising,” she said, “children get the necessary time to play without adults interfering with the play-learning process. Adults get back the time they need to rest or complete jobs, helping to ease stress and burnout.”

Sittervising can also make your kids feel more independent and self-sufficient. Nevertheless, it can be nerve-wracking for parents to try at first. If you’re nervous, go slow. Start with actually sitting down and watching your kids play from a distance. Then, start doing some other work in that room while your kids are playing. Once you’re comfortable doing that, you can work yourself up to leaving the room for longer and longer periods of time.

Whether you’re sittervising or not, stuffed animals are the perfect play companions for your kids. Look through our collection at The Zoo Factory to find the perfect playmate for your child!

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Tips to Get Your Kids to Clean Up After a Birthday Party

person vacuuming glitter from party

 

Cleaning up after a rocking birthday party is definitely the only downside of having such a great party for your child. However, if you get the kids involved it can help the process and you can create memories while doing it. There are a few different approaches to getting the kids involved, so make sure you choose the best option for your kids and your kids attention span. They usually want to help but don’t know how. Maybe this will be the beginning of helpful hands cleaning up after themselves.

Play a game

One exciting way to get the kids to help is to play a game; the best game to play is dress up! Since your children have the imagination, they can use it to dress up as maids or butlers. Another dress up game that can be fun is pretending to be Cinderella. In this type of setting, you might be able to get your children to scrub the floors from all the cake smashing! At the end, you need to have some fun and make sure your prince and princesses get a ball… complete with a special dance!

Make it educational

If your children are old enough to count, turn it into an educational experience. Ask them to pick up 5 things and count them out as they pick them up. Then continue with adding on numbers until the whole house is spotless! This can also work if you tell them to pick up all the blue objects, then all the pink ones and so on. You could also make it a competition to see who can fill his or her garbage bag with the most items. Make it a fun experience and your children may want to help out more often than just after the best birthday party ever.

Add a competitive element

Many kids love to compete. So, turn cleaning up into a bit of a sport! Have your kids compete to see how many items they can pick up or how quickly they can clean up an area in the allotted time. They can compete against their siblings or against yourself.

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Hand-Me-Down Etiquette for Children’s Toys and Clothes

young girl kneeling in front of box full of stuffed animals

As your child gets older and friends and family members start to have little ones of their own, you may be tempted to give them some of your child’s old toys and clothes. However, before you throw your child’s old things into a bin and ship them off to someone, you may want to ask yourself a few questions. Following these hand-me-down etiquettes can ensure that everyone is happy in the long run:

Make sure the other person wants your hand-me-downs

Don’t just show up at your friend’s doorstep with a box of baby supplies in your hands. They may not need those supplies, or they may not want to give their first baby hand-me-downs. Whatever the reason, there is always the chance that the other person may not want your hand-me-downs and you’ve just put them in the awkward position of either taking things they don’t want or saying no to your face. So, be sure to ask them first instead of just assuming they would take your hand-me-downs.

Only give items that are gently used

Giving someone hand-me-downs is not an opportunity to clear away junk. The items you give them should be in good condition and gently used. Anything with stains, tears, or other forms of damage should be thrown away.

Let the other person pick and choose what they want

If the other person agrees to take some of your hand-me-downs, don’t just give them everything you have. Instead, invite them over one day and let them go through what you have. That way, they can pick and choose what they want or need, and they won’t have to get rid of a bunch of items. If there are items leftover, consider donating them to a local charity.

As you’re getting rid of your child’s old belongings, make sure you replace some of those old toys and stuffed animals. Here at The Zoo Factory, we have plenty of stuffable animals for all ages. Look through our website to get started!

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How to Teach Your Child to Make Their Bed

young girl making her bed

Everyone loves sleeping in a carefully made bed. We adults often make our beds in the morning so we can savor going to bed at night. Not only that, but it also helps keep our rooms neat and tidy. However, our children don’t think the same way. Teaching our kids to make their beds, then, can be easier said than done. But it’s not impossible.

Walk them through it

When you first made your bed, you probably didn’t know what you were doing. The same is true for our own kids. They won’t know how to make their beds at first, or how to make it easy to make their beds. That’s where we come in. Walk them through how to make their beds the first several times they do it. Then, gradually allow them to do it more and more on their own until they have it down.

Make it a habit

Your child is more likely to make their bed if it becomes a habit. To do this, we recommend using habit stacking. Habit stacking involves doing a new habit immediately after an already established habit. For example, you could have your child make their bed everyday after they brush their teeth.

Make it fun

Let’s face it, kids don’t like to do chores. However, they’ll be more likely to do them if a little bit of fun was involved. When you’re first teaching your kids, have some fun with them! Joke around or try to make it a competition to see how fast they can make their bed. You could also get their stuffed animals involved by neatly placing their favorite ones on their newly made bed.

Do you have your own tricks for teaching your child how to make the bed? Share them in the comments section below!

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How to Help Your Child with Back-to-School Anxiety

Happy schoolchildren studing and answer questions in classroom during a lesson at primary school

Few kids want to go back to school, but some may even be anxious about the idea of it. Back-to-school anxiety is completely normal. Nevertheless, it’s never fun to go through, for the child or for the parents. Here, we list some ways you can help your child deal with their back-to-school anxiety.

Remind them (and yourself) that this is common

When kids start feeling anxious about going back to school, it can be easy for them to think that they’re the only ones who feel this way. But this kind of thinking can make them feel isolated, increasing their existing anxiety. It’s important to remind your kids (and yourselves) that back-to-school anxiety is completely normal and that there’s nothing wrong with feeling nervous.

Take a day to walk them around the school or classroom

Kids become especially nervous if they’re starting a new school or simply changing classrooms. The fear of the unknown sets in, and it makes it all the easier for their minds to create catastrophic situations. To help dispel these fears, take a day during the summer to introduce them to their new school or classroom. Walk them around and show them the different rooms they’ll be taking classes in. Just make sure you get the school’s permission before you do this!

Problem solve

Ask your child why they’re so nervous about going back to school. Once you have their reasons, you can figure out ways to resolve those worries. For instance, if they’re worried that they won’t have friends in their classes, ask around to see which kids are in your child’s classes. If they’re concerned about their workload, show them that they have already handled tough workloads in the past.

Provide comfort

At the end of the day, your child may just need a hug or a comforting presence near them as they gear up for school. Try to support them as much as you can. You can even keep them entertained with some of their favorite activities to take their minds off of school.

Stuffed animals can be a great way to comfort your child when they’re nervous. Here at The Zoo Factory, we have many stuffable animals for you to choose from. Look through our online inventory today to get started!

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The Importance of Washing Stuffed Animals Regularly

Above top view adorable slumber little girl embrace stuffed toy dog sleeping in comfortable bed with white fresh linens, closed eyes kid resting having daytime nap refreshment, bedtime ritual concept

A stuffed animal is a child’s best friend. They go for car rides, play in the backyard, and travel to every corner of your child’s imagination with them. With all of this adventure, they are bound to get a bit dirty on their travels, which is why it is so important to wash your stuffed animals on a regular basis.

Why Should You Wash Stuffed Animals?

If your child has any allergies, regular washing of their stuffed animals will help to prevent flare ups. Dust mites can collect on stuffed animals, potentially causing eczema and asthma attacks. Besides when your stuffed animals get dirty, it is also important to wash them after your child is sick, or if there is a case of head lice found at their school.

When Should a Stuffed Animal Be Washed?

Any parent will tell you that trying to get a stuffed animal away from a child is a difficult task, especially if it is a favorite one. Nevertheless, it’s still important to wash them every now and then. You should try to wash your little one’s stuffed animal friends when you notice that they are soiled, have food or other grime on them. We recommend getting this task done during the day, so your child can still go to bed with Teddy in their arms at night.

How Should You Wash a Stuffed Animal?

A common misconception about washing stuffed animals is that they will be destroyed in the washing machine. However, you can put a stuffed animal in the washing machine with no problem at all. Just make sure you put the washing machine on its gentlest cycle to prevent any buttons from falling off.

You can also follow our guide here on how to wash your stuffed animal in a washing machine or by hand. And if you have further questions, the pros at The Zoo Factory are always here to help!

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How to Teach Your Kids to Use Positive Self-Talk

kids having fun in the nature and smiling

Most people are their own worst critics. And this can come to hurt us. When we constantly berate ourselves, put ourselves down, and criticize ourselves, we start to believe all those negative things. However, those negative beliefs are hardly ever rooted in the truth, and it can be especially painful for parents to see their kids be so hard on themselves. To combat this negativity, many therapists and psychologists recommend using positive self-talk.

What is positive self-talk?

Positive self-talk helps people reframe their thinking and build self-esteem. It’s not just about creating a positive attitude, it’s about teaching the brain to look at both the bad and good, rather than just the bad. We all have faults, and it’s good to be aware for them. Unfortunately, too many of us only look at our faults and do not look at our strengths as well. By using positive self-talk, you can bring those strengths into the picture to help you gain more resiliency and confidence.

First, recognize negative self-talk

Awareness is key to building any new habit. If your child is overly critical of themselves, don’t expect them to flip a switch and suddenly become more positive. Instead, teach them how to recognize their negative self-talk first. Tell them to listen to sentences that start with “I can’t,” “I always,” or “I never.” Once they’re aware of this negative self-talk, they can take steps to change it.

Ask questions and turn things around

Now that you and your child are aware of their negative self-talk, start digging a little deeper. Why does your child say or think these things about themselves? For example, if your child says, “I’ll never get a good grade in math,” ask them what makes them think this. Then, work with your child to turn these phrases around to make it more realistic and positive. Here’s how that would work:

Negative Self-Talk: “I’ll never get a good grade in math. I’m too stupid.”

Question: Why do you think this? What evidence is there to support this?

Positive Self-Talk: “Math is a difficult subject for me, but with help, hard work, and practice, I can get a better grade.”

As you can see, the positive self-talk example does not simply tell your child that “they can do it.” Instead, it recognizes your child’s struggles while also reframing the situation to empower them.

Model positive self-talk

Kids copy their parents. Even if you want your child to practice positive self-talk, they won’t do so if they see you being hard on yourself or others. If you’ve been critical of yourself in the past, use this as an opportunity to practice and model positive self-talk as well.

Here at The Zoo Factory, we want all kids to feel confident and empowered. That’s why our stuffed animals are designed to bring out our kids’ true selves. Look through our shop today to find the perfect stuffed animal for your child!

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Theme Ideas for a Stuffed Animal Birthday Party

cake with animals on it for child's birthday party

When you’re planning a stuffed animal-themed party, you have a few options for your setting. Some parents opt for one animal choice, to avoid fighting over specific animals, while others prefer offering an array of options to the kids. If you wanted to go for a particular theme, then you could choose a few options that relate to it. Alternatively, if you want to keep it generic, you could offer a wide variety of animal styles.

Farm Animal Theme

If you have a myriad of animals, you can go with an overall farm animal theme. This is probably the easier option, as it gives you more options for party favors, snacks, and games. Go with the color red, it’s often associated with barns. Give the setting a farm feel with cornstalks and hay bales.

Zoo Animal Theme

Another theme you can use if you want to have multiple types of stuffed animals are zoo animals. If your kids love exotic animals, this is definitely the way to go.

One Animal Theme

If you want to go the other way, and keep everything the same, choose an animal that you can work with.  For example, if you offer one choice, opt for a bear. Your child could have almost any theme decorations, and a stuffed bear section would make sense; it is versatile.

Dinosaur Theme

Does your child love the prehistoric era? Then go with a dinosaur theme! This is a nice compromise between having various stuffed animals or having just one. Kids will all get a dinosaur, but they’ll still be able to pick out their favorite one.

Once you’ve picked out the perfect theme for your stuffed animal birthday parties, it’s time to get the stuffed animals! At The Zoo Factory, we offer many party packs for you to choose from that are sure to delight guests of all ages!

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How to Keep Your Kids Busy During the Summer

group of kids on bikes smiling

School’s out and summer’s here! But now that that your kids are no longer spending their days at school, they’ll need something else to occupy them. Here, we list some ideas to help get your kids out of their bedrooms and up and moving throughout the day.

Go on a family day trip

A family day trip is the perfect opportunity to get away for a bit and have fun as a whole family. It’s especially good for families who may not have time for a full vacation. Not sure where to spend your family day trip? Then read our blog containing family day trip ideas.

Plan friend group activities

Since they’re no longer seeing their friends every day at school, you may want to plan a few group activities for your child and their friends. Coordinate schedules with the other parents to see which days during the summer months are best for everyone. You can do this as a one-off activity or make it a regular thing during the summer.

Participate in summer sports

Does your child love baseball, softball, or another outdoor sport? Then summer is the perfect time for them to give it a try! Many little league seasons extend into the summer months. Plus, if your child wants to learn tennis or soccer, many local organizations hold summer lessons.

Try new hobbies

In addition to sports, your child can also try out new hobbies. They’ll have plenty of time to experiment with different ones and take various lessons during the day. Plus, once they’ve found one to their liking, it will be something they can enjoy for their entire life.

As your child is trying new things this summer, make sure a lovable stuffed animal is by their side! Take a look at our online shop to find the perfect summer-time companion for your child.