Ever since the original movie came out in 1995, I have been a huge fan of the Toy Story movies. To me, they are cinematic genius. But they also represent an important connection that I share with my children due to a common interest.
When the first Toy Story movie came out in cinemas I was an early 20s newly married woman with no kids. My husband and I still went to see the movie because, well, it’s Toy Story! It was cinematic history, being that it was the first fully computer animated feature film, and the lure of Tom Hanks and Tim Allen voicing adorable characters in a movie with a good dose of comedy for all ages was too good to pass up.
All those years later, I simply could not wait for Toy Story 4! Apart from the fact that I would probably bawl my eyes out (edit: not probably, definitely!).
Sharing Toy Story
I introduced my eldest son to the magic of Toy Story as a preschooler. Sitting with him and watching this wonderland unfold, meeting the characters and enjoying the heartwarming story together was so special. He caught the Toy Story bug and watched the movie so many times that the video started to wear out! He got a Buzz Lightyear toy for Christmas – it glowed in the dark, said cool things, and had pop-out wings. The Woody doll with pull-string “there’s a snake in my boot” sayings from the movie joined the toy collection too. Toy Story 3 came along when my kids were just a couple of years into their school days. We were all excited to see it having watched the earlier movies so many times and become invested in the characters.
Over the years Toy Story has simply become a part of our family, whether it be stories we read at bedtime, games we share, toys that we play with, or even just the Toy Story pop culture. “To infinity and beyond,” was my son’s favourite phrase as he ran around the garden. He went to the kindy disco dressed up as Buzz Lightyear. The phrase, “You are a sad, strange little man” has been jokingly used so many times for a variety of those “what planet are you really from?” moments! We even re-enact the scene where the toys are jumping in front of the sliding doors whenever a door is slow to open automatically (followed by howls of laughter).
Sharing experiences and building bonds
When you share an interest with your child, like a favourite movie or toy, a series of books, a sporting team, a favourite camping spot – whatever it may be, you are sharing experiences. During those experiences, you are connecting with them in a way that can create amazing bonds. Nothing is more powerful in grounding your child and reminding them of their place in a nurturing and loving environment than one of those family inside joke moments. They are priceless. They help to forge bonds between you and open the way to more meaningful conversations and positive interactions.
Extending those connections into learning opportunities too is made easier when there’s a common bond. I could spend ages with my kids building with LEGO Toy Story 4 sets and making up stories with Buzz, Woody, Jessie, Rex and all the gang, because I have the same familiarity with those characters that my child does. LEGO is a firm favourite in our house and one of the easiest things I have found to connect with my kids over. I mean, who doesn’t love LEGO, right? Building and storytelling are a huge part of the learning that comes easily with LEGO and sharing a common interest around the theme helps to hold everyone’s interest.
Written by Julie Scanlon for LEGO
Julie is Editor for Kidspot NZ and our MVP. Her hobbies include laughing uncontrollably at her own jokes, annoying her family by asking questions about movie plots, and never taking anything too seriously. She speaks a little Spanish and a lot of Yorkshire.
Favourite motto to live by: “It ain’t nothing but a thing”