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How to Throw a Kid’s Halloween Party During COVID-19

How to Throw a Kid’s Halloween Party During COVID-19

Traditional Halloween parties are a thing of the past, thanks to the coronavirus. Nevertheless, that doesn’t mean our kids can’t have any fun this Halloween. There are still safe ways to hold a Halloween party for your kids and their friends, even if you have to resort to a virtual party rather than an in-person one.

Here are just a couple of ways you can throw your kids a great Halloween party this year:

Outdoor costume party

An outdoor costume party will allow you to invite people over while still staying socially distant, weather permitting, of course. Have guests dress up in their favorite costumes and hold a contest for the party’s best costume. Winners can receive extra prizes, and everyone can go home with a goodie bag or party pack. Just make sure that everyone who comes is wearing a cloth mask, not a costume one, as costume masks are thin and provide very little protection (thankfully, there are ways that guests can match their cloth masks to their costumes).

Virtual Halloween party

If the weather turns sour, or you don’t feel comfortable inviting people over, you can always opt for a virtual party instead. Have your kids and their guests dress up in costumes, and be sure to send Halloween party kits for everyone to enjoy. These party kits can have candy, games, and even stuffed animals with corresponding Halloween costumes. At the end, put on a spooky, kid-appropriate Halloween movie that everyone loves!

Visit a pumpkin patch or apple orchard

Instead of a traditional Halloween costume party, you can always spend some time at a pumpkin patch or apple orchard instead. Many patches and orchards have Halloween celebrations of their own, encouraging guests to come in their best costumes. Go with a small group of trusted friends or family members, wear your masks, and use hand sanitizer before and after touching any of the pumpkins or apples.

Halloween may feel a bit different this year, but we can still have plenty of fun. If you’re throwing a Halloween party this year, see how a party kit and costumes from The Zoo Factory can liven up the experience.

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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 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!

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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.

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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!

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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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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!

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5 Tips for Getting Your Children to Unplug from Technology

Every time you look over, it seems like your kid is burying their faces into another screen. Whether it be their cellphone, computer, video game, what-have-you, their entire lives seemed to be consumed by technology. This can be a serious problem, as several studies have proven that too much time staring at screens can have an adverse effect on our children’s health. So, if you find your child spends too much of their time with their computers, then here are some ways to get them to unplug:

Set some rules

First thing’s first—if you want your child to stop using screens, you’ll need to establish some ground rules. Namely, make sure there’s a time limit on how many hours they can spend in front of a screen. You should also consider taking screens out of the bedroom or putting your phones away when dinnertime comes around.

Set an example

Our children learn from our actions, so if you spend most of your time staring at your cellphone too, your child is hardly going to change their habits. Instead, try and set a good example by following those house screen rules just as your child has to.

Read

The more time your child spends staring at a book instead of a screen is time well-spent. The benefits of reading are endless, and a good book will ensure that your child doesn’t get bored and wander back to their electronics again.

Pick up a hobby or sport

A new hobby or sport is just the thing to get your kid active and engaged with the world. If you’re not sure where to start, try experimenting with different activities until your kid finds something that they enjoy.

Play some games

A lot of the time, when children are using electronics, they’re usually playing games. So, if you want to encourage them to step away from their video game for a bit, try to provide other sources of entertainment. Buy them a new set of toys or a new stuffed animal that they can use to play with their family members and friends.

Getting your child a new stuffed animal to play with is a great way to encourage them to put down their electronics for a little while. So, if you’re looking for a stuffable animal to give your child, then take a look at our selection here at The Zoo Factory.

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5 Tips for Getting Your Kid to Clean Their Room

“Go clean your room!”

It’s something you say at least once a week, but chances are the last thing your kid does is go and clean their room. Even if they do listen to you, it’s likely after a lot of moaning and groaning, but it doesn’t have to be this way. Here are some ways you can get your kid to clean their room without all of the yelling and groaning that’s usually involved.

Make it a game

If you make cleaning fun, chances are your kids are more likely to do it. To do this, try turning it into a game. For example, you can play “Last Thing on the Floor” where your child has to pick everything up off the floor within a certain time frame. You could also do make-believe maid in order to spark their imagination.

Set an example

Your child is less likely to clean their own room if they notice that you don’t clean yours. Instead, try to set a good example by keeping things clean and tidy around the house.

Help them out

If your child is on the younger side, it’s best to try and help them clean their room until they get used to it. Show them the ropes, then let them take over a little bit more each time. Just make sure that you don’t find yourself being the only one working while your kid is goofing off.

Have bins for their toys

The majority of the time, the reasons your kid’s room is messy is because they don’t pick up after themselves after playtime. So, try to have a storage system for all of your child’s toys and stuffed animals. Then, try and encourage them to clean up after themselves every time playtime is over so that there isn’t an enormous mess by the end of the week.

Use incentives

We don’t like to bribe our kids to clean their rooms, but sometimes a little candy or money afterward doesn’t hurt. You could even offer a reward for cleaning their room for entire month in order to keep them going.

With these ideas in mind, it should no longer be a battle to get your child to clean their room each week. Plus, once a room is cleaned, there’s plenty more space to store a few more toys or stuffable animals. So, if you’re looking to add a stuffable animal to your child’s collection, take a look at the selection we have at The Zoo Factory today!