Ten Acts of Kindness Activity Book Teaching Guide

Helpful Teaching Tips

(Find the Ten Acts of Kindness Storicolor Book and Activity Book at Via-E.com)

Welcome educators!  I know first hand how challenging it can be to teach children, especially our own.  Making learning fun and interactive builds fond memories between the mentor and student but also supports the building of a permanent knowledge base from which children will draw upon in their daily lives.

Learning is developed best by using all the senses: sight, sound, touch and smell.  With each sense utilized the memory path is reinforced.  Via E books are developed to encourage multi-sensory learning.  We use high quality full color images to excite visual interest, coloring and other activities engaged the tactile (touch) senses, reading aloud, reading in groups or mentor reading such as mom to daughter engages the auditory senses while the smells of family and friends complete the positive learning experience. 

Here are a few suggestions to create a full sensory learning experience:

  • Read aloud and pause to discuss interesting parts of the story or lessons that could be learned.  Make reading an exploration vs. a task.

  • Read outdoors where smells of the outdoors create a soothing experience or burn a candle indoor of a favorite sent for a special treat.

  • Be sure to color the illustrations, ask her to underline and circle important lessons.  The most treasured books have evidence of many journeys through the pages.

  • Enjoy the color illustrations, spend time encourage imagination by asking visual questions to help her draw pictures in her head.  For example, “What do you think Ms. Rodriquez look like?”  Help her bring the story to life!

  • Use the Activity Book to test reading comprehension and memory.

  • The “What do you think?” section in the activity book is designed to encourage discussion—there are no right or wrong answers, just wonderful time exploring important value-rich lessons.

  • Journaling in the Activity Book pulls together application of real life to reinforce building positive behavior as well as practice writing skills.  For mom and dad it creates a wonderful keepsake!

  • Finally, the many crafts found in the Activity Book make learning fun while providing reinforcement of learning objectives.

  • Remember to smile, use a pleasant voice and warm reinforcement.  Keep the learning environment organized, well lit and fun.  The environment, its sounds, visuals, smells and comfort are all part of the memory of learning. 

Ten Acts of Kindness Activity Book Answer Key

The Challenge

The first step is to create awareness of others and their circumstances and/or needs. This first chapter starts with a challenge to look for ways to help others.

Learning lesson: Awareness

The first step is to create awareness of others and their circumstances and/or needs. This first chapter starts with a challenge to look for ways to help others.

Question Answers

  1. The little girl lost her dog.
  2. “Kindness is like a butterfly.”
  3. Alex’s mom challenges Alex to do ten acts of kindness.

Discussion Question:

Alex wanted to help because she wanted to make a difference in the little girl’s life.  She was feeling the little girl’s sadness and wanted to help.  When you are empathetic (feeling someone else’s pain) you take on the sadness too in a small way.  So by helping other girls who may be sad or need help, Alex can make a difference and feel happy for helping others.

To honor someone by doing something in their name is to show respect or caring.

Craft Answers:

A Butterfly Visit

Learning lesson: Kindness

Kindness requires a kind heart. Here Alex experiences a kind moment when the butterfly visits her for a brief moment and becomes her inspiration to spread that feeling to others. Although this example is anchored in fiction, it teaches of small moments where we prepare our hearts to care about others.

Question Answers:

1)  Alex was on the way to meet her best friend Elena.

2)  The butterfly landed gently on her hand.

3)  Alex felt happy and excited that the butterfly visited her.

Discussion Question:

Standing still and watching the butterfly with a kind heart allowed the butterfly to feel safe enough to land on Alex.  When you have kindness in your heart and hope for others to be happy, you will always have a lot of friends because kindness helps others feel good too.

Craft Directions:

Remember to color and tear out the butterfly on page 13. Hang it in a place where it will become a reminder to do acts of kindness every day.
The First Act of Kindness

Learning Lesson: Compassion

Developing compassion early in life is vital to develop the ability to understand others and have a heart of willingness to help others. It is no wonder the teaching of compassion is found in all the world’s major religions. Truly in order to develop leadership skills, one must first develop the skill of compassion.

Question Answers:

  1. Elena was jabbering about her soccer game she played the day before. (Jabber means to talk fast with random facts.)
  2. Alex asked Ms. Mary to stop the car because she saw a little girl who had fallen and scraped her knees while on her way to school.
  3. The little girl was crying because she was sad that her sister and friends had ran ahead of her and left her alone.  Alex helped the little girl feel better by showing compassion and caring by helping her pick up her books, care for her knee and get to school on time.

Discussion Question:

No one likes to be left out.  Being left out because you can’t run as fast, or any other reason can create sad feelings that lead to a low sense of self value.  Children who develop a low sense of self value can become depressed leading to reduced socialization, lower grades in school, anger and attitude at home along with other misbehaviors.  Children become mean because they are angry about the world around them or are emulating the bad behavior to which they are exposed.  Every child has the opportunity to help another by simply being nice and welcoming a child who is or has been left out.  Being kind is a habit worth having and building.

Craft Directions:

Color the butterflies on the activity page and then flip the corners of the book to see the butterfly fly in the book the way animation was done many, many years ago!
The Second Act of Kindness

Learning lesson:  Leadership

Leadership implies being a good example, whereas the word leader often implies a self-serving position where one is served by many. Establishing what a good leader is early in life will help children to be able to identify what leaders they will become and what leaders they are willing to follow.

Question Answers:

  1. Miss Vega asked her students to get into groups of three.
  2. It was a problem because groups of three meant that one person would not be included in a group since the class had nineteen children. (19/3 = 6 groups of 3 and one person left out)
  3. Alex’s solution was to leaver her group of three to make a group of two with Melissa so she would not be left out and alone.  Alex’s friends, Elena and Jenna, followed Alex’s leadership and joined to create a group of four.  This made Melissa very happy.

Discussion Question:

As in the First Act of Kindness discussion we learned that kids who are left out feel sad and alone.  Our lesson in this second example is awareness and leadership.  When asked to get into groups, people migrate to their established friendships without regard to what else is going on around them.  Children migrate to those who are most like themselves, often feeling uncomfortable befriending someone who is perceived as different. We can help break down these fears by creating awareness in our children though discussions of compassion and courage.  Under each of our differences we are all the same—humans in need of encouragement and acceptance.  By teaching leadership—the willingness to do the right thing when others do not, we help build our child’s confidence, independence and self concept while also building up other children in need of social acceptance.  Confidence is contagious when it is shared.

Craft Answer:

The Third Act of Kindness

Learning lesson:  Bully Prevention

What is a bully anyway? How can children tell the difference between fun teasing and harmful behavior? How does a child stand up for themselves or step in to protect others in situations that are harmful? These are simple questions with complicated answers. Use the resources below to help guide your children through this very important topic.

Question Answers:

  1. The event took place on the play ground at school.
  2. Sue’s friends were making fun of her because she cut her hair in a short style.
  3. “Thank you for defending me during recess!  It really meant a lot to me; you’re great friends.

Discussion Question:

This discussion is designed to help girls understand that teasing can be harmful—especially when it is a group of kids teasing one child.  Teasing become bullying when emotional stress is evident.  The problem is that many children are unaware of the damage they are inflicting on another, and again, group dynamics mask the harm being done as each is encourage by the other to continue the misbehavior.  Discussing the difference between teasing for fun and when teasing becomes hurtful is very important. In our story Alex sees that Sue’s feeling are being hurt by her friends and she takes action to lead the group into a supportive more positive conversation.  This technique avoids conflict while supporting and building up Sue’s confidence.  This is a win-win for Alex and Sue as well as a good example for the friends who were teasing Sue.

Craft Instructions:

Give Alex a new hair style! Draw hair on the Alex picture found on page 25. This would also be a good opportunity to point out the beauty of girls who might have lost their hair due to illness. Remind your girls that hair is only an accessory, not the girl herself. Beauty if found from within.
The Fourth Act of Kindness

Learning Lesson: Empathy

What is the difference between Empathy and Compassion? Compassion is centered on caring whereas Empathy is the ability to feel what others feel. Being able to put oneself into the shoes of others is the foundation on which compassion is built. The development of a child’s brain starts with a me-centric focus. This biological fact is likely built in for survival purposes. As a child grows the brain has the ability to consider the wellbeing of others. It is during these early stages we can build the foundations of Empathy such that it becomes a solid character trait our children will call upon when situations call for compassion.

Question Answers:

  1. Melissa was standing alone at the back of the line.
  2. Alex thought she seemed almost invisible.   Alex meant that Melissa was not included or involved in what was going on around her.  Alex felt sad for her and wanted to help her feel important.
  3. Alex simply smiled and waved a warm hello to Melissa to share friendship.

Discussion Question:

            A simple act such as a smile and a wave hello is a wonderful way of sharing kindness and acceptance.  This simple act acknowledges the recipient and tells them they are important—significant.  This is especially important in the lives of children as they look for social acceptance.  Helping shy children take small steps to build social skills will help develop confidence.  The positive reinforcement of a return smile and wave is a reward that will pay dividends for years to come.

Craft Answers:

The Fifth Act of Kindness

Learning Lesson: Selflessness

The act of putting other’s interests before oneself sounds like a road of sacrifice but in this act lives the seed of true joy. It is found in the fulfilling feeling of knowing you made a difference in someone’s life by having the discipline to put your own needs aside temporarily. To develop this character trait children need a strong sense of self confidence, and exhibit leadership of compassion and empathy. Developing a balance of tending to one’s own needs and those of another is a worthy task for both teacher and student.

Question Answers:

  1. Cassy had lost her new eye glasses that her mom had saved for two months to buy.  Cassy did not want to disappoint her mom by not taking care of the expensive eye glasses.
  2. Alex had to give up her afternoon recess play time.  Instead of recess Alex had to catch up on the math lesson she missed while out helping Cassy find her glasses
  3. Nicholas had found a pair of glasses while he was playing during lunch recess.  He brought the glasses to Principal Young so he could help find the person who lost their glasses.  By caring enough to take the glasses to Mr. Young instead of playing, Nicholas helped make sure they did not get broken.

Discussion Question:

There were four people who helped Cassy find her glasses: Nicholas found the glasses and gave them to Principal Young, Ms. Vega allowed Cassy to miss the math lesson and go look for her glasses, Alex helped Cassy so she would not have to look for the glasses alone, and finally Principal Young kept the glasses safe until he found their owner.

If Nicholas did not bring the glasses to Principal Young, they could have been taken or broken by someone on the playground.

If Ms. Vega did not allow Cassy to miss the math lesson, she may not have found out that Principal Young had them in his coat pocket.

If Alex did not help Cassy, Cassy may have given up looking for the glasses.

And if Principal Young did not keep them safely in his pocket and ask how he could help Cassy, she would have to go home that day without her glasses.

The act of doing for others and sacrificing your own wants or needs is called being “selfless.”  Think of it as a “less of you and more of others” way of thinking. We are programmed at birth to think of ourselves as a survival instinct and it is necessary to care for ourselves.  But as we grow up, we also learn that it is important to be helpful and care for others as much as we care for ourselves.  Sometimes it is necessary to put the needs of others first because their need is greater than our own.  When we learn to do this, we find out that we get back more than we give out.  Meaning that when we help others, or allow them to be first, we make a difference in their lives and that feels good!  You have the power to help people feel good about themselves, fix problems, and help them learn to be better people by your example. That makes you a leader and people will want to be your friend because they know you care.

Activity Answer:

The Sixth Act of Kindness

Learning Lesson: Leadership

Leadership is the product of several character traits acting in concert to facilitate the greatest result. The pillars of leadership can be found in the character traits taught in most school curriculums: Trustworthiness, Respect, Responsibility, Fairness, Caring, and Citizenship. Leadership sprouts out of these traits when we add the desire to act; the boldness to be a good example; the willingness to help others do the same.

Question Answers:

  1. Ms. Vega had a date for dinner after school.
  2. Alex had some extra Math to do so it took her longer than normal to get all her books together to take home.
  3. Ms. Mary was proud of Alex because Alex helped Ms. Vega with her work instead of playing so Ms. Vega had time to go to the beauty parlor and relax before her dinner date.

Discussion Question:

Alex was acting like a leader because her acts of selflessness encourage others to join in and help Ms. Vega.  Ms. Mary, Elena and Manny joined Alex to help Ms. Vega finish her work so she could go home early.  Leaders become great leaders by helping things get done, taking initiative or the first step down the right path.  A true leader is someone people follow willingly because they respect and want to be part of what the leader is doing.  Leaders are helpers.  You do not have to be the one in charge to be a leader.  Leadership is an attitude, a willingness to do a little more than what is asked of you in order to make things better for all.

Leadership Training Activities:     

Here are a few leadership training activities we found or create your own for more fun!

Rope Circles
Get four different lengths of rope: 20 feet, 15 feet, 10 feet and 5 feet. Tie each into a circle, put them on the ground and have all the players get inside the big rope. No body part may be outside the rope. Once the group successfully completes one rope, have them move to the next smaller rope. With each decrease in size, the group will have to be more creative to fit. The players will have to work together and leaders will emerge to help organize the group to successfully complete the task.

Rope Knot
Have four to six players hold onto a single, 18-inch-long rope with one hand. Then tell them they have to tie the rope into a knot without releasing it from their hands. This activity is more challenging than it sounds and can take more than an hour to complete.

Teams of Two
Divide the kids into two groups with the same number of players. Have one group leave the room, blindfold them, then set out two objects in the first room. Have each player in the first room go out and pick a blindfolded player to lead. Their goal is to bring their blindfolded partner into the room to each object and help them figure out what they are. The non-blindfolded player can’t speak. When the groups are done, you can have them switch places and use two new objects. This gives everyone a chance to test out his leadership skills.

Human Knot
Make a human knot to build leadership skills. Get everyone in the group together and have them put one hand out and grab someone else’s hand. Then have everyone put their other hand out and grab someone else’s hand. Their goal is to figure out how to untangle themselves so that they end up in a big circle, without releasing their grips. Leaders will arise when people take charge to help get everyone untangled.


Craft Instructions: (Suggest working this one once before teaching it to your student(s.))

Make the origami flower found on page 37 of the activity book.  Use different color sticky notes to make a bouquet.  Bring them to your teacher as an act of kindness.
Three More To Go

Learning Lesson: Friendship

Friendship is a gift, one to be given and received. It is in the reciprocity where friendships grow or fade away. Teaching this basic truth of friendship to children will help them build long lasting relationship that will act as a support base from which they can battle life’s challenges.

Question Answers:

  1. São Paulo is located in Brazil.
  2. Sophia forgot to take the ball down the right side of the soccer field because the left side was muddy from the rains of the last week.
  3. It was not Sophia’s fault the team lost because it is a team sport so one person cannot win or lose a game.  Everyone is needed to win or lose.

Discussion Question:

Understanding the elements of good friendship can help a child to better understand how to become a good friend. Here is a list to help start your discussion on friendship:

  • Kind
  • Loyal
  • Fair
  • Honest
  • Compassionate
  • Caring
  • Trustworthy
  • Forgiving
  • Selfless
  • Fun
  • Accepting
  • Does not brag or act unbecomingly

A good guideline is to treat others as you would like them to treat you.  You should never have to change who you are nor should you try to change your friend.  If you feel uncomfortable or pressured to change, then it may be best to find a new friend.  Pick your friends carefully and then be the best friend you can be.  Your reward will be friends that last a lifetime.

Craft Instructions:

Make the friendship bracelets on page 41 of the activity book.  Keep one and give one to a friend!
Alex’s Big Sacrifice

Learning Lesson: Being a good global citizen

What is a global citizen? Is it possible for children to make a difference in lands they may never experience? I tell my children even in our worst day there are those who would consider the same set of circumstances as their best day. Our poor in the United States would be considered wealthy by people of nations where water, food, access to medical care are extremely limited or nonexistent. We who have been blessed to have been born into a country of safety have the greatest opportunity to reach those born into extreme and life-threatening circumstances. It is said, “With power comes great responsibility.” We have the power to give, thus we have the responsibility to give. We have the power to care, thus we have the responsibility to care. We, even our children, have the power to act, thus we all have the responsibility to act. Let us teach global citizenship, acting even in small ways to make a difference in the lives of those in need.

Question Answers:

  1. There was a large earthquake in Chile.  It destroyed many homes and people were without food and water—it was a very large natural disaster.  Alex was thinking about the families and girls like herself who needed help.
  2. Alex wrote a letter with a poem and packaged up her favorite dollfriend, Alexia, and sent Alexia to a girl in Chile who lost all of her things.  She hoped Alexia would help comfort the girl during her hard times.
  3. Alex saw two butterflies on the way home from the Red Cross center—one for Alex’s act of kindness and one for the joy Alexia would bring a little girl in Chile.

Discussion Question:

We can help people in need all around the world.  You can write a letter, draw a picture, make a craft and send it to a child who is sad or a soldier who is away from his family.  Earn money doing chores around the house, collecting cans and bottles, washing cars, mowing lawn…etc. and then send it to your favorite charity to help children in need.  Listed below are a few international charities but there are many, many, more. Children can help children and spread small acts of kindness around the world.





Activity Answers:

The Skateboard

Learning Lesson:  Conflict resolution

Conflict is not always bad. It affords an opportunity for greater understanding, building of trust and fortifying bonds between people. Conflicts typically start out mild and with proper skills each party can walk away from the conflict feeling whole. However when conflicts are fanned into personal battle grounds, they become more difficult to resolve without someone walking away with emotional battle wounds that may prove hard to heal. Resolving conflicts at all stages builds increases bonds between the parties involved because trust is increased by knowing the other understands, compromises and values the relationship. Conflict resolution is an advanced skill that requires constant mentoring through both modeling and teaching of techniques.

Question Answers:

  1.  The two sisters were fighting over a new skateboard.
  2. Alex let the sisters borrow her best skateboard so they would each have a skateboard to play with.  This was a good solution because now the sisters could have fun playing together instead of fighting.
  3. She made the sisters promise to wear a helmet while skating and not to skate after dark.  Alex wanted to make sure the sisters would not get hurt, and was acting like a leader by reminding them of safety rules.

Discussion Question:

Alex pretended not to know the girls were fighting so she did not have to take sides between them.  Instead she just offered a solution to the problem.  We do have to be clever about helping people sometimes because when our friends are angry and fighting they are not thinking about others—they are hurt inside.  When we look for ways to help instead of getting involved in the conflict, we can help both sides of the argument find an acceptable solution or compromise. This way everyone feels like a winner.


Color the puzzle on page 49 of the activity book.  Before you cut it out, glue it to a small piece of poster board. Then cut it out following the lines to make your own puzzle!
A Surprise

Learning Lesson:  Family relationship development

The wonderful thing about family is that they will always be family. The difficulty is also found in this fact because it tends to lead to under valuing or taking each other for granted in that we will always have time for family…later. Just as we adults become distracted with life’s demands, so do our children become distracted with their life events. School, friends, and activities in their lives are just as important to them as the adult duties and activities are to us. Thus if we don’t make time for family, our children learn to fill their time with external forces. Nothing marks the swift passage of time like a child’s life. Before you know it, they are adults and your time to tell them all you wanted them to know has passed. Make time, everyday to build family ties.

Question Answers:

  1.  Alex and her mom were singing at the top of their voices while they were getting dinner ready for Alex dad’s return from his trip to Chile.
  2. Alex’s dad whispered, “You will always be my butterfly, Alex, and your joy never leaves my heart.”
  3. Alex was happy that her dad was finally home but also because he brought her a Dollfriend® that looked like the Alexia doll that she sent to a girl in Chile.  It was a big sacrifice to send Alexia to Chile and she was already missing her, so when her dad gave her a Dollfriend® to replace Alexia it made Alex very happy.

Discussion Question:

            Spending time helping your mom and dad can be fun!  Simple things like preparing dinner or folding laundry give you time to talk and spend “friend-like” time together.  You have a lot in common with your parents since they have know you your entire life!  Think of ways to make chores fun like:

  • Play music and sing together
  • Make a game out of the chores that need to be done
  • Build a creative story together—each one takes turns adding to the story.
  • Find normal objects around the house and see how many different things you could do with it. Example, how many different uses could there be for a paper clip?
  • Plant spring flowers together
  • Act out a silly song or poem
  • Give each other hugs
  • Plan a vacation together—even if it is just a day trip!
  • Ask your parents what they wanted to be when they were young, or what was their best, funniest day, find out about their school friends—you will see they were a lot like you are today!

It is all about making the best of the time you have together.

Craft Instructions

Cut out the Via E box, found on page 53 of the activity book, following the heavy black lines.  Make sure you cut the box flaps.  Tape or glue flaps A to B and shape to form a square.  Then fold the bottom flaps fallowing the number sequence.  Now cut out the Alexia doll and put her inside.  Fold the top flaps to close the box.

Next cut out the Alex paper doll found on the back cover of your activity book.  Be sure to follow the dashed line at the bottom to make her stand. Fold on the lines and tape the ends together.  If your Alex doll is too heavy then cut away more of the yellow and white background.

Now you can tape the box to Alex’s hand or just set it next to her.  Now you have your own Alex and Alexia doll!

I am a Butterfly

Learning Lesson:  Building good habits

Think about building habits like building your muscles or endurance–the key is repetition. It takes approximately eight weeks of a minimum of three times a week to build a habit (good or bad.) Like exercising, it is difficult during the training period but after the hard work is done, the rest is easy as your brain is now programmed to perform without having to much think about it. So the key is to make the initial learning period fun and easy. Make kindness a habit by building on the lessons presented in Ten Acts of Kindness at least three times a week.

Question Answers:

  1.  Alex stopped counting her acts of kindness because it was no longer something she had to remind herself to do—she had created a habit of kindness.
  2. Alex’s heart was full of happiness.
  3. Yes, each person Alex helped that day had thought about how kind Alex was and how it made them happy.

Discussion Question:

Spend time reviewing the acts of kindness your student/child did and wrote about in their Kindness Journal found in the back of the book, starting on page 57.  Which ones are your favorites?  How do you think each person feels about your kind act?  How did you feel helping people?


Review the journal entries made in the My Kindness Journal found in the back of the activity book. Discuss how to continue doing acts of kindness every day. Congratulations for a job well done!

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What My First Grade Class Taught Me This Year

I have been teaching for over 18 years at the university level.  This year, with the vast shortage of elementary grade teachers, I decided to help out.  This is what began my time as a first-grade teacher.  A post COVID classroom experience is one you have to experience to truly understand.  Some children learned the art of self-teaching and are far above their peers.  Others are struggling with the very foundation of reading and math skills.  The challenge for teachers (assuming other teachers are experiencing the same thing as I) is how to manage the growth for all students when there is such a wide range of learning readiness.  Teachers also have a shortage of teacher support.  Parents do what they can, while constrained school budgets limit the availability of in-class teacher assistants.

Imagine teaching 21 seven-year-old students who have different abilities to sit in their seats.  Each with so much to say that waiting to be called upon is more than they can manage!  Add a curriculum that only affords 20 minutes of recess (Lord help us all when the weather calls for indoor recess) and 20 minutes for lunch.  Arrivals start at 8:00 am and dismissal at 2:15 pm.  I joke that I can’t get my college-age students to sit that long!  Teachers have to be quite skilled to integrate active learning and “brain-breaks”.  Not to mention the bathroom rotations of the entire class three times a day!

But what I learned from this experience, so far, is that boys are still boys and girls are still girls.  Give the class of boys and girls a piece of paper and markers and boys will make airplanes, while girls draw and color.  Not that girls don’t like to fly an airplane or boys to draw and color, but they seemingly play just as their ancestors have for generations.

When making their holiday wish lists, girls still asked for dolls and boys for toy guns.  This along side of requests for technology toys.  I was taken aback.  All the media talks about are how children of today’s technology are different, but what I witnessed was that children today are just like children of years gone by.  They have more options for things to play with, but simple things such as paper, markers, dolls, and toy guns are still as relevant as ever.  Perhaps, we should stop pushing our assumptions on the children of today.  Instead, let’s find the joy in just watching them play and then facilitate that play to help them explore their imaginations.


Healthy Anger Management for Boys

I titled this post as anger management for boys not because I think girls do not have anger they need help to manage, but as a personal story about my grandson.

I grew up in a generation and a family where anger was to be hidden.  We talk only about positive things and scorn those that appear to promote conflict or violence.

As a toy maker for children, I seek to promote toys that encourage healthy play environments and to that end, navigate away from creating toys of “conflict or pretend battles.”  Well, at least until I entered the world of play found in communities of boys.  I started to examine more closely traditional boy play environments seeking to understand the why of play conflict, such as super heroes and villains.

I then pondered a world filled with conflict, divorce, separation, and hurt.  Could it be children can benefit emotional well-being through conflict play environments?  A place where the good guy and bad guy are clearly defined?  A place where children are safe in expressing feelings of anger, fear, and triumph?  A place to reconcile feelings they don’t quite understand?  A place where children have complete control over the outcome…who the winners and losers are?

I have researched and written papers on the role-playing aspects of play.  How repetitive play acts as rehearsal and can build positive skills in children.  My worry was that combat play would rehearse the wrong skills—reinforce aggressive behavior.  But I see now, that I was short-sited with application.  Not only do children rehearse and build desirable skills through a guided play environment, but they also practice how to manage conflict, fear, and uncertainty.

For many years we have put aggressive boys into sports teams to help them direct their aggression in a positive environment.  Sports are a type of battle—there are winners and losers.  Here we teach how to be a gracious winner and a tempered loser.  We teach that losing is not the end.  To keep on trying to win at your goal.  The same type of positive application can be true of combat play using toys.

I said this was personal.  Yes.  My grandson is separated from his father.  A father who has not found the value in being an active participant in his life.  Additionally, my grandson has some emotional disabilities that make it harder for him to control his impulses.  The combination of feelings of sadness, loneliness for his father, anger, and lack of control leads to episodes of behavior problems.  My goal is to give him a healthy way to vent these feelings before they build up and contribute to problems that can impact his ability to interact socially.

My grandson is very smart and creative; he loves to make things.  So, I made him a bad-guy that he helped design.  I suggested when he feelings anger, this bad guy is tough enough for a pretend battle.  I gave him permission, if you will, to act out on this character.  My hopes are the stuffed bad guy, that he help make, would help him transition from feelings of anger to feelings of confidence that he can win even when life hurts.  I understand that this toy is not a “magic bullet” in the war over hurt and sadness, but perhaps it can be a tool to help him in times when he needs to express the negative energy created by being hurt in his situation.  At a time when his maturity is not enough to reconcile the situation of his broken home.  I figure, at minimum, he will know his grandmother loves him and this bad guy that we built together represents a positive element in his life.

Via E Japanese Oni Plush Toy PDF Pattern

The feature picture is of the stuffed bad guy my grandson designed.  He selected the colors. (The color selection gives insight, doesn’t it?)  Later today, he will glue on the face pieces and decide what his Japanese oni should wear and we will make it together.  Perhaps we will make some more battle tools to aid his play experience. I hope my story and thoughts create conversations on how we can help our little ones navigate a big and sometimes difficult world.

Kewanee Arrow Craft

Archery is the sport, practice, or skill of using a bow to shoot arrows. The word comes from the Latin arcus, meaning bow. Historically, archery has been used for hunting and combat. In modern times, it is mainly a competitive sport and recreational activity.(Wikipedia)

When Kewanee picks up her long bow she feels connected to her ancestors. For this reason, she enjoys target shooting and competing with her brother NIKAN to see who can get the most points. Together the set up targets, cans or apples to see if they can aim well enough to knock them off the platform where they were set. Kewanee and NIKAN always make sure they are practicing in an area set up for target practice to ensure they don’t hurt anyone and their arrows are not sharp but have a foam tip so they can only knock things over.

This arrow craft can be made with things you can easily find around the house or get at your local craft store. It is easy enough for kindergarten aged children, but it is important to supervise play.

The images below are the front and back of the Arrow Craft included with Kewanee’s Forest outfit shown below. You can get this outfit for a limited time at: https://via-e.com/collections/clothing-activity-sets/products/forest-limited-edition-sketch-pad-design

Use the Foam Arrow Trace pattern to make the foam arrowhead.
Use the color thread to secure the arrowhead and ends of the feather to the chopstick (cut the chopstick to any size. I like a size of 6 1/2 inches.) As you wrap the thread cover the area so the thread becomes the decoration. Use super glue to tack the end of the thread when you are done winding it around the arrow.

Bumper Cars

Have you ever been on a bumper car attraction? 

Perhaps they are most enjoyed from the sidelines as you can’t help but to smile and feel joy.  Some bumper cars cruise around the arena intently avoiding others.  Some charge at full speed to bump the car of this methodical avoidance.  With triumphant glee, they “got you.”  And in the spirit of bumper cars, perhaps you laugh and then maneuver to a safer space.  Then there are those who get caught up in the crowd, bumping and being bumped.  It seems there is always a car that gets stuck against the edge of the arena that can’t seem to figure out how to get un-stuck.

I was thinking, life is like a bumper car attraction—bumping others and being bumped.  We get bumped by people, employers, governmental policy, etc.  And in our attempt to find a safer space, we bump others.  I wonder if a secret to living a joyful life is more about inner joy and the ability to move on after being “bumped.”

Perhaps it is about creating a circle around those who are being targeted by the “got you” bumper types.  But doing so in a way that the act of protecting is its own reward, creates its own joy.

I think a joyful soul is a powerful elixir.  So many tales of extreme hardship have turned into powerful messages that leave a positive imprint on society’s reflection.  You see, people are watching.  They see you.  They feel you.  If you can be joy filled, love filled when you are being bumped, the blessing of peace will be yours and it will spread to others.

Yes, it is a game of bumper cars.  We will be bumped.  Sometimes gently, other times with great force.  We can’t control what bumper cars are going to do, where they will go, we can only control our reaction to being bumped.

Fill your minutes, hours, days with joyful thoughts.  Reflect on your best memories, your cherished ones, and plan the next.  Let good fill your mind and pull it deep into your soul.  Be a protective bumper for those in need and share your joy with others.

Be a light unto the world and darkness will be nothing more than a shadow of passing bumps.

Together we can extinguish, or at least make burdens less heavy, by having a joyful heart and sharing it with another.

My heart to yours,


Mary of the Middle East™ Dollfriend® –Her Story

Mary of the Middle East™ Dollfriend® is the newest Advance Production Adventure™ from Via E. Advanced Production Adventures™ are the winning formula for the creation of Dollfriends®. Through these adventures, the Via E community participates in the design and development of each and every Dollfriend® character. It starts with viewing the first sculps, suggesting changes, voting to approve the design, viewing the prototype, discussing and voting on the meet outfit and ending with the delivery of the character being featured. For those who join before the box artwork is printed, each will be invited to have their name printed on the outer box to document their participation.

So far, we have received four design awards using this process. Other companies monitor their competitor’s products to get their new product ideas…we don’t. The only inspiration needed comes from within our own community.

Mary has lived as a dream of mine for three years now. Patiently waiting for her turn, I can’t think of a better month to begin her journey, December of 2021.

Who is Mary?
Mary is a girl who has an infinite ability to love and accept those around her. Her official birthday is July 26th (this does not reflect the delivery date, rather is a detail in her backstory.) Mary is home schooled by her mother, Hannah and is an only child. She has a grace about her that can turn even a stranger into a loyal friend. Her father, Joachim, came from a wealthy family, but instead of using that wealth for riches, Joachim travels to the poorest of regions where money can help to build the things most needed for others. Perhaps this is why we can see tenderness and love in Mary’s eyes, she has her father’s eyes.

Mary hopes someday to become an ambassador, crossing the boarders of the Middle East in an effort to build a more unified people and help to end conflict. Mary has a natural ability to learn new languages and enjoys reading. But don’t think Mary is too delicate…she is always up for a new adventure and stomping around in even the most challenging of climates.

I’m going to love getting to know Mary. I hope you will too.

During 2022, we will learn more about Mary as we craft her into our next Dollfriend®. Help support her production by joining her Advanced Production Adventure™ early! Find out more at: https://via-e.com/collections/dollfriends/products/mary-of-the-middle-east-advanced-production-adventure

Mary with have brown wavy hair, blue-green eyes, and joints at the elbows, knees and wrists. Her all vinyl body will be strung with elastic allowing for water play. Like all Dollfriends®, she will have 22 points of realism including French manicures and pedicures and toes that can wear flip-flop sandals. Through Mary, we will all learn a little bit about the Middle Eastern culture and people.

The Flight of Super Woman in Modern Times

“Pass me another energy drink please.”  It’s 5:30 am and time for the baby’s morning feeding.  This was proceeded by the 10:00pm and 1:00am feeding, making the night a series of cat naps.  A morning shower includes baby in the swing just outside the shower (he likes the light sprinkles that fall on his face as the water bounces off his mother’s shoulders).  Mom reaches down after rinsing the shampoo out of her hair to bring baby in for a quick wash down.  The warmth of the water and soothing feel of the rain-like drops on his back will act like an elixir and ensure a long morning nap–long enough to allow mom to dress, feed, and get brother off to school.  Thank goodness it is not her turn for the school carpool. A kiss and a hug send little Gunnar running to the car idling at the curb in front of the house.  Mom smiles and waves as the red minivan full of neighborhood children rushes off to beat the morning school bell.  Being sure to close the door quietly, she now has just enough time to make phone calls to the morning’s “Hot List” and attend her boss’s ZOOM video conference call.

Stories like this are being written in time all around the United States and perhaps the world.  This story is the tale of a single mom.  Adding a partner to the story may make it a little less hectic, but not much as it takes two incomes to keep a roof overhead and food on the table.  Mom as “Super Woman”, is not a novelty, it is a norm.  How did we get here?  How do we survive a life where the stories are the things of super-human efforts?

I’m not famous where my words will somehow inspire a paradigm shift that solves for sanity, but my observations, sprinkled with years of education, and my own experiences conclude the solution lies in the extended family. Working hard and being independent are two values, when not balanced with the old countries’ values of extended family integration and a ring of close community cooperation, can lead us to striving to be something no human was meant to be—super human.

It takes a village to raise a child is not just a saying, it is wisdom of generations from all cultures found around the world.  But somehow our worlds keep getting smaller.  The “me generation” has created a nasty residue of broken chains between family and community. The solution, I think, is not in creating governmental substitutes wear children are shipped off to free child care centers or the like.  I believe the solution is found in each of us.  In our willingness to connect.  Our willingness to lend another our time, our talents, our love, and support.  Being connected creates a place where each can be a hero without having to be super human.

Perhaps each of us can extend a helping hand to a family member, a community member, or even a stranger. 

Be a hero in another’s eyes as often as you can.  We are the stewards of the world in which live.

With all my heart,


The Dangers of Toxic Relationships

A reflection of personal tragedy by Ellen Callen

Suicide.  How does a person of any age reach the point of deciding the only relief is to force an ending?  I’ve had a few weeks to contemplate.  At first, I thought I’d write about the pain of loss and the road to recovery.  But after situation(s) circled around me, I realized at the center of such tragedy was abusive relationships.

Not all abusive relationship couplings end in a suicide, but that does not make such relationships any less damaging.  And in today’s toxic political environment iced with the COVID-19 pandemic, toxicity has spread as fast as the virus itself.

How do we know if toxicity has infected our own relationships?  Ask yourself the following:

Do I feel better, worse, or no change in my emotional state after contact with the person
in question?

Does the person in question speak in positive or negative languages?

Do I feel I have to compete in order to be valued?

Do I feel I can trust the person in question with my well-being?

Do I feel the person in question cares about me?

Would the person in question adjust if they knew they were hurting you?

Does the person say “I’m sorry.” and make changes to keep from hurting you?

Can you, off the top of your head, remember a time shared where you felt loved recently?

Do you feel the relationship is a constant battel?

If you took account of your answers what would it tell you?  I suspect we all know innately when we are being treated in such a way that we feel bad.  The question is, “What to do about it?”

The answer to that question is not so easy as it often depends on how closely tied we are to the toxic person.  If it is a husband or wife, perhaps counseling can help.  To do nothing and to continue absorbing the toxicity is unhealthy and will lead to an outcome that is unpredictable, but surely damaging to your ability to have a healthy state of mind.  If the relationship is with siblings where family counseling is not probable or possible, boundaries need to be set.  No one has the right to abuse you—not even family.  In some cases, we may need to distance ourselves from toxic family relationships until each can find a way to interact in a way that adds value and increases healthy bonds.

Perhaps it is friend, a co-worker, a boss?  Most assuredly I can tell you a toxic friend is no friend at all.  Friendship is defined as:  “a state of mutual trust and support.”  Don’t mistake a person who spends time with you to be the same as a friend.  If the person is toxic, let them go.  What about a co-worker or boss that you can’t avoid?  The first step is to realize the environment is toxic.  The second step is to plan your escape.  See if there is another department you can transfer to, or look outside the company for a new place of employment.  In the meantime, speak to your Human Resources department or health line for support.  Don’t be afraid to protect yourself from toxic people.  We are our own best protection plan.  But you have to be willing to take action.

But what about the children?  It was because of children that I created Via E.  In the hope that one of the Dollfriends®, and now Brothers Adventures™, would find its way to the arms of a child in need of a safe friend.  That the activities would help develop confidence, and the community would result in a support system.

Humm…but my thinking was flawed.  The children in greatest need are buried by the command of their abusers.  What do I mean?  Our system in society too often fails the at-risk children.  They bounce back and forth from abuse to help to abuse.  This cycle of abuse to help to abuse leaves the child felling there is no escape from the abuse…each time hope is restored it is taken away.  Until the point the child puts an end to it on their own.

How can we stop this cycle?  How can we save our at-risk children from toxic situations that seem to never end?  Never end…sounds like I am using words to over state the situation.  BUT, in a child’s mind the idea, the belief that someday they will be free from their pain is outside of their mental development.  Today, the now, is everything to a child.

My grandson, at the age of 14, decided two weeks ago that his best escape from a toxic situation was to end his life.

Was he loved…yes.  To the moon and back.  But he was caught in a custody battel with one parent deep in toxicity, perhaps unknowingly stripping her son of his will to live.

This blog post does not claim to have any answers.  It is a reflection. It is a call to action for all who read it.  Toxic relationships kill.  They kill our spirit, our joy, our self-concept, and yes can even lead to loss of life.

What can we do?  We can pray.  But God calls for action as well.  First, we have to clean our own house of toxic situations.  Set boundaries where appropriate to allow our healthy minds and hearts to become strong.  Only then will we be able to see toxic situations in others and be able to support others toward finding a path to detox and selflove.  The children, we must dare to get dirty if the call to support crosses our path.  If we are whole, we are in a position to lend our heart to those in need.  Learn about support organizations and be willing to build up a child’s sense of self whenever possible.

My grandson’s name is Marques.  I won’t say “was.”  Marques lives on in our hearts, our memories, and in God’s kingdom.  Those that knew him will miss him.  We all wish we were there at the moment he felt he could not escape his pain, to hold his hand and assure him that we were on his team.  Life is fragile.  If nothing else, let’s remember to love one another, be kind and tender-hearted, acting to others as we would wish to be treated.

I finish this long post with a thank you for reading.  With a hope that each will work to remove toxic things and people from your life so you may reach your highest dreams and have the energy to lift others up along your path.

Sending all my love, Ellen

What is the story of Alexis, and who designs Dollfriends(R)?

Alexis O'Shay, Alexis, Alexis doll, Alexis Dollfriend, Via E
Alexis 2012 Release in her “Fun in the Sun” outfit

Alexis was created in 2012 but her story goes back to 2009 when I, Ellen Callen, created two characters – Alexis and Elena to share a world of diversity and love of learning.

Originally, Via E was an online retail store selling over 800 items for 18″ dolls. Alexis and Elena were the characters and models. Mattel, Inc., who owns American Girl, LLC, was quick to have their legal team shoot a warning shot across the bow of the young Via E concept. That was my first lesson of their power. I had sent out a simple email promotion the first week of opening Via E and within days they ordered me to close my doors, stating several legal statutes and scary language. Some of what they were upset about had merit and some was just an effort to push me off the industry map. In the end, I quickly evolved to a place where Via E could move forward without Mattel drowning me in legal battels.

Over the years they (American Girl, LLC.) have “borrowed” concepts from Via E…in the industry it is known as taking inspiration from others which is completely legal. I’ve had my own legal advisors review merits of such activity and have had some experienced industry lawyers tell me I had a case against various violators who became too inspired with my work. When a company takes another company’s concept and makes it their own it is seen as unfair but it is also the American way.

Recently, I was contacted and notified that American Girl, LLC, has created a character and named it Alexis. They have created a line of themed clothing representing different countries around the world and as they have done before, they have used similar hair color and style, eye and skin color as one of our award-winning characters. If this is true, what does that mean? What it means is we are now the inspiration for the largest toy company in the world. Everyone knows Mattel, et al, “borrows” from many industry players so that doesn’t make us special but it does validate our little company.

Should we feel threatened? NO.

Mattel and their American Girl division is loved by many and not so loved by others. Mattel can not be Via E. American Girl cannot be Via E. Only we can be Via E. Our stories, our characters, our designs, our community, our friendship is ours and ours to share.

YES, I am the designer and Via E Inc., is the copyright owner of Alexis Christine O’Shay(TM) Dollfriend(R) and the same is true of Tatiana, Elena, Kewanee, Melina, Mako and Nikan and my inspiration comes directly from YOU.

I do not visit any other doll company sites. I do not research any other dolls to find my inspiration. In fact, I purposely stay away from such activities because I don’t want to dilute the inspiration that is YOU.

So, let’s continue designing new Dollfriends(R) and Brothers Adventures(TM) our own way. If others are inspired, let’s smile knowing our light is burning brighter when others are warmed by it.

Alexis is a name shared by many, but there is only one Alexis Christine O’Shay(TM) and we know who she is and are the masters of her continued journey around the world. After Melina and Mako arrive and we have our celebration time, we will start another Advanced Production Adventure together. A new girl and a new boy will join Alexis as she and her friends learn about different people, places, and cultures.

So, spread the word that our community is open to all and inspired by all who wish to join our family known as Via E.

(Legal disclaimer: Mattel Inc, and American Girl, LLC are not associated in any way with Via E, Inc. This story is my own accounting of events that have transpired and are disclosed only in an effort to further differentiate Via E copyrights from possible consumer confusion between the brands aforementioned.)

Have Things Gotten a Little Negative at Your House?

In August, my family will start its sixth month of quarantine. Grocery shopping has become a task I look forward to because it is the one thing that brings new life through the solid oak entry door. I have the sacks of bounty delivered. We sanitize the counters and hands after putting away what will become my entertainment.  Mask, wrap-around glasses sit on top of a stool right next to the door.  Shoes stacked under the stool and a designated quarantine area for the daily mail complete the additions to our decor.  I think I have gained at least five pounds and I’m feeling a bit squishy.  So, a stationary bicycle has also been added to the backyard.

We started out like a pack of bears huddled in our den while we kept each other safe and warm.  But as the weeks became months and the forecast became many more months to come of COVID-19, being close turned into being too close.  I noticed more infighting from extended family and the two plus one at home seemed to make picking on each other a sport.

Last week I had had enough of all the negativity.  So, I created the Negative-Nelly or Negative-Ned game.  I pulled three retired plastic cream cheese containers out of the bottom kitchen drawer, grabbed a Sharpie from a pencil cup in my nearby office, and then wrote my name on one, my husband’s and son’s name on the other two.  With scissors, I cut a slot in the top of each. Then I announce the rules of the game,

“Each time someone says something negative to another, they get a ticket dropped into their container.  At the end of each week, the person with the most offences has to perform a favor for the other two.  For example, my car sits and collects dirt now days, so I may ask for a car wash.”

It started out as a joke, but those three little containers performed magic in my house.  The negativity disappeared.

In a time like now where we have so many stresses and at the same time are pushed together in spaces designed for basic shelter, perhaps a little reminder (in a non-threatening way) can help us all remember to be kind to one another.