7 Lessons Learned from Toy Story 3

toy story opener

Photo via Neuro Software

If you thought the Toy Story movies were about overcoming differences to become friends, then you missed some of the more subtle lessons: That stocking your kid's toy room can be an exercise in sustainable, eco-friendly choices that the junior set won't even notice. Follow these tips, inspired by the trailer for Toy Story 3 (which comes out in theaters this Friday) to choose toys that will keep your kids happy and healthy to infinity and beyond.

1. Choose Toys that are Built to Last

It's been 15 years since we met Woody, Buzz, and the rest of the Toy Story crowd, and while their owner, Andy, may have outgrown them, the toys appear to be as sturdy as ever (even Buzz's lights and sounds still work). They're in such good condition that Andy's mom doesn't even throw them away: She donates them to Sunnyside, a day care/preschool where a new generation of kids put the old toys through their paces. By looking for high-quality toys that don't have a lot of breakable pieces -- and that are made from durable materials -- you too can send your kids off to college with the same best friends that helped them through childhood.

2. Donate Used Toys

donated toys photo
Photo via Good Housekeeping

The kids at Sunnyside are thrilled with the new additions to their toy room, although they aren't exactly gentle on Mr. and Mrs. Potatohead. As for the toys themselves, their feelings are mixed: Some of them miss Andy and plan to break out of their new home to get back to him, but others are happy to be played with again. Keeping old toys in storage at your house isn't doing the toys any favors, and by donating them to nearby schools, nurseries, shelters, or thrift stores, you'll give other kids the chance to enjoy them as much as your own kids did.

3. Pick Toys with Personality

favorite toy photo
Photo via Lara604 @ Flickr

The toys that last the longest are the ones you feel the most connected to, whether that's a handmade doll, the teddy bear your aunt gave you when you were born, or your favorite blue blanket. Giving your kids one-of-a-kind playthings that they can infuse with each toy's own individual personality makes those toys a lot more likely to last over the latest cartoon character or movie princess toy. (Of course, this means that we'd recommend a cowboy doll from your local craft fair over a specific Woody-from-Toy-Story version, but that's up to you.) And you can't go wrong with the classics: Barbie and Ken (who joins the cast for this film with voicework by Michael Keaton), the Potatoheads, astronauts, and dinosaurs never go out of style.

Discover More Lessons Learned From Toy Story 3 on  Page 2

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