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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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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!

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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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Toys that Enhance a Child’s Imagination

Children Playing with Teddy Bear

Children have amazing imaginations and their ability to play pretend and think up stories is inspiring. For many children, role-playing and creativity is often sparked through play.

Playing with different types of toys can help to fuel a child’s imagination, helping them to become more innovative and imaginative.

Playing with Costumes

When children play dress-up, their imaginations run wild! When playing dress-up, children can take ordinary clothes and turn them into fantastical stories. Playing with costumes allow children to dress up as superheroes, historical figures, doctors, movie stars, animals, and more. Playing with costumes allow children to “become someone else” in a matter of minutes, resulting in endless hours of fun. Save some of your old clothing, such as shoes, purses, and ties, that could work perfectly for a costume!

Playing with Art Supplies

Give a child (washable) colorful markers and watch them create new worlds and amazing ideas. Playing with art supplies trigger a child’s imagination allowing them to put their thoughts and dreams into something real and tangible. Art is the perfect platform for allowing children to explore their personal creativity. Children just love to get messy with glitter, glue, stickers, and paints! Here are some tips on an easy clean up!

Playing with Toy Cars

The concept of traveling to new and unseen places can heat up a child’s imagination. Children relate vehicles with trips to school, to the park, to grandma’s house, to the beach, and more. Children love going places and experiencing new things and they often associate cars with that concept. Playing with toy cars, buses, and trains give children the opportunity to take trips in their minds.

Playing with Stuffed Animals

Playing pretend often starts with your child’s first stuffed animal, which they will love and adore like a true friend. Stuffed animals, such as teddy bears, can kick-start your child’s imagination because they will often treat their furry friend as a real person. Stuffed animals can benefit children of all ages.

Encourage your child’s imagination with a stuffable animal from The Zoo Factory. Children will love the idea of building their very own stuffed animal and making it on their own.

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Unique Take on Stuffed Animals Coming to Life

Lots of Toys

Between their huge imaginations and their charming ability to turn everything into a game, children love the idea of their stuffed animals coming to life. Classic kid’s movies and cartoons present tales of animated toys, talking teddy bears, and children that can communicate with their toys.

Children see stuffed animals as their first and most loyal friends, and the ability to witness “life” in these treasured toys keeps children’s creativity alive. Pretending they can talk back allows children to play with their stuffed animals in the most inventive ways.

In today’s technological age, science found a way to bring stuffed animals to life through motion.

By using soft robotics, researchers at Yale University developed robotic skins that animate inanimate objects. Made with elastic sheets and full of sensors and actuators, the robotic skins can animate objects and make them perform different tasks. The skins help objects walk, move, or grasp and move another object.

The leader of the research and an assistant professor of mechanical engineering and materials science, Rebecca Kramer-Bottiglio and her team developed the skins to use as soft robots with large implications. The idea is that researchers can use the robotic skins to wrap around deformable materials to create improvised robots for situations where they might prove helpful. For example, astronauts could use the skins in space to attach to objects and deploy for exploration.

Dubbed OmniSkin, the researchers wrapped the robotic skin around a stuffed horse’s legs to make it walk across a table, animating the stuffed animal in a new and exciting way.

These researchers, just like our children, are inventing unique ways to bring stuffed animals to life. Find your children a new stuffed friend from The Zoo Factory, your source for buildable, stuffable animals and dolls.

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How to Use Stuffed Animals in the Classroom

Small Child with Stuffed Bear

Stuffed animals can work wonders in a classroom full of young children, and we love the idea of incorporating them into an educational setting.

Here are a few of The Zoo Factory’s favorite ways that stuffed animals can be used in a classroom setting.

Consider a 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.

Create a Reading or Writing Partner

Stuffed animals serve as the perfect audience for reading and writing practice. Letting students read books out loud to stuffed animals allows them to practice reading comprehension and fluency while minimizing nerves. For editing help, have students write a few thoughts down and let them read these thoughts out loud to a stuffed animal to listen for writing mistakes. 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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Teddy Bears Can Help Kids Get Ready for Bed

Teddy Bear in Blue PJs

While some children embrace nighttime routines and willingly hop into the bath, other kids struggle with the concept and will do anything to postpone shutting their eyes.

 The Zoo Factory has some suggestions on how to get your children ready for bed if they typically struggle, including how to incorporate their teddy bears!

Set and Stick to a Bedtime Routine

Children thrive on routines because they set expectations. Create a fun bedtime routine with your child and include some activities that make them excited about bedtime. Start with a bath that includes some entertaining games, directly followed by changing into a set of pajamas of your child’s choosing. Have them pick them out ahead of time so you’re not wasting time looking for the “right pair.”

Reading one book or listening to one song is another easy thing to incorporate into a routine. Choosing a favorite activity will help children look forward to bedtime.

Consider Teddy Bear Backup

Grab your child’s favorite teddy bear and have your child change it into pajamas during your child’s bedtime routine. The Zoo Factory has several different pajamas sets perfect for fuzzy friends.

While you help your child change into pajamas, they can help their teddy bear do so.  Children tend to imitate, so they might be excited to change into their pajamas if their favorite stuffed animal is as well.

Create a Game

Most children love games and making bedtime into a game  can help some children enjoy the experience. Once you have an established routine, add in some activities to make it more fun. Time how long it takes your child to get through their bedtime routine, and on a night that it seems to be dragging, have them try and beat the time. Consider changing into your own pajamas with your child and “race” to see who can change the fastest.

Don’t be afraid to offer small prizes when bedtime goes as planned such as stickers, a stuffed animal for consistent good behavior, and so forth.

Find teddy bear outfits for any occasion with The Zoo Factory. We offer pajamas, sports outfits, dance outfits, costumes, vests, sunglasses, and more.

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Use Teddy Bears to Encourage Clean Rooms

Are you having trouble teaching your child how to keep their room clean? The parents of young children often struggle to show their kids the value in cleaning up after themselves and keeping their rooms neat and organized. However, we have a tip that might just work!

Many parents have found it beneficial to use teddy bears and other stuffed animals to encourage their kids to clean their rooms on a regular basis.

When kids are young, teddy bears and other stuffed animals are often a prized possession. However, that doesn’t stop them from throwing their precious stuffed animals on the floor or under the bed. You can use this to your advantage by building a stuffed animal zoo for your kids. This zoo can serve as a storage place for your kids’ stuffed animals while also allowing them to turn clean up time into a fun activity.

You should take the DIY approach to building a stuffed animal zoo for your child. You can create a zoo for them using little more than pine boards, paint, nylon rope, and wooden letters. This will allow you to personalize your zoo and build something that will be completely unique to your child. You can decide how big to make it, what color to paint it, and more when you design a zoo on your own. But no matter what it looks like in the end, it should be large enough to house all your child’s stuffed animals at once. It will encourage them to keep their room clean by putting their stuffed animals away in the zoo when they’re not playing with them.

If you need help filling your stuffed animal zoo once it’s finished, The Zoo Factory can lend a hand. We offer stuffed teddy bears as well as a variety of other animals. Check out our inventory and call us at 480-699-5519 today to place an order.

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Little Teddy Bears Take a Big Adventure

Bear in Flight Goggles

Teddy bears serve many great purposes. They give us a friend to hug and love, they are great sleeping partners, and often times, they can be used to raise awareness for a good cause.

Students in Indiana recently raised a lot of money using teddy bears, and in the process, the teddy bears got to have a lot of fun.

Forty students from the Indiana University Dance Marathon (IUDM) recently made headlines when they each jumped out of a plane with a teddy bear along for the ride, all in the name of boosting the spirits of the kids at the Riley Hospital for Children in Indiana.

The plan was simple or so they say. The 40 students each took their own teddy bear and loaded into an airplane. Once they were in full flight (13,000 feet in the air), each student jumped out of the plane with a teddy bear in tow.

Why you may ask?

Well, they wanted to give the brave children at the hospital a brave teddy bear to keep by their side, and after jumping out of a plane and falling towards the ground at 120 mph, each bear was then considered the “Bravest Bear in the World.” These bears were then presented to the “Bravest Kids in the World.”

This is the fourth year that these students have had this event and not only does it produce brave bears, but over the years, they have raised many millions of dollars for the hospital with 75 percent of that money going to research and 25 percent going to clinical care. All for a cause that is 100 percent for the children.

It is so refreshing these days to have young people who are so compassionate about those in need, and these kids are really dedicated. As event organizer Matt Arnold has said, “Looking out of the door of the plane at 13,000 feet, knowing you are going to jump out is scary, but when you think about these kids are going through, it’s a lot scarier. This program puts it all in perspective.”

At The Zoo Factory, we also take pride on putting smiles on children’s faces, and that is why we offer a comprehensive selection of stuffed animals and stuffable animal kits so each child can make their own customized best friend to accompany them through thick and thin. Check out our site to see our grand selection.

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The Evolution of Stuffed Animals

vintage teddy bear

At the Zoo Factory, it’s no surprise that we love stuffed animals. We think they’re great for people of all ages as a safe, healthy, and fun toy that everyone can enjoy. And clearly, we’re not alone: stuffed animals have been loved by people for centuries.

Let’s take a trip in time to see where stuffed animals came from, and how people came to love them in the first place.

The Early Stuffed Animal The Evolution of Stuffed Animals

Did you know that civilizations around the world have been making some form of a stuffed animal since the beginning of recorded history? Actually, it was the Romans in as early as 300 BC who are first credited with creating the rag doll, which were made with fabric scraps and filled with straw. These were mostly enjoyed by poorer children, who were unable to afford the pricier toys of the day.

The Modern Stuffed Animal

There are really two instances where the stuffed animals that we know came about. The first is the stuffed elephant created by Margarete Steiff in 1880, who first produced the toy based on a pattern she read in a magazine. She eventually started manufacturing thousands of these elephants, and Steiff’s company became one of the most popular in the world.

The other is the most famous: the world-famous “Teddy Bear.” In 1902, toymaker Morris Michtom saw a cartoon in the Washington Post about how President “Teddy” Roosevelt had spared the life of a bear cub when out hunting one day. The story inspired him to make a toy replica of the bear cub, and he ended up calling it a “teddy bear.” Of course, Michtom’s toy shot to international fame, and Ideal Toy Company, Michtom’s company, soon was the biggest toy manufacturer in the country.

Of course, stuffed animals have gone on to take a number of different forms, and appear in popular culture all over the world. But that history lends itself to their original creativity, and beloved comfort.

At the Zoo Factory, we pride ourselves on continuing that history with the best selection of stuffed animals out there. If you have any questions about our selection, contact us today!