Play More = Higher Intelligence

Playing makes children smarter.
In fact, playing increases intelligence in adults too.  Sounds like a marketing pitch, right?  Wrong.  I have spent over seven years investigating this premise and I can’t find any data to debunk this claim.  Actually, the more I research the better I understand the why of this claim.  The crazy thing is our schools are decreasing the amount of free play in their curriculum in the United States.  No doubt this is the result of the well-meaning politicians who know not what they do.  The subsequent increase of homework for all ages is almost at epic levels.  Well my friends, here is a bit of homework that will increase your child’s intelligence and at the same time, decrease stress at home…Play More.

Tinkering:  Time Magazine reports, “Research in the science of learning shows that hands-on building projects help young people conceptualize ideas and understand issues in greater depth.”[1]

Free Play: “The average bright child seems to spend about 45 to 50 minutes a day more in play than the average dull child. In mental recreation (“picture shows; playing checkers; cook and similar games; playing the piano or other instruments, etc.”) the average bright child spends an hour more than the average dull child.” Writes Boynton and Ford, in The Journal of Applied Psychology back in June of 1933![2]

Sports: There are scores of reports that show a positive correlation between participation in sports and academic improvement.

Doll Play:  Another scholarly paper writes, “Pretend play might be a zone of proximal development, an activity in which children operate at a cognitive level higher than they operate at in nonpretense situations. “[3]

I like to keep my posts short and to the point. But if you wish to read on, here is a great article found at Parenting Science:

My goal for Via E is to provide an educational experience that is cloaked in fun.  Since play is a natural part of learning, we have science on our side.  So, come on…let’s Play More!

Always yours, Ellen


Ellen Callen, B.S., M.B.A., Instructor at the University of California, Irvine, Division of Continuing Education, researcher of Child Development and Early Learning, is the founder of Via E, Inc. Via E’s, mission is to develop and deliver wholesome play products and integrate methods to increase cognitive and creative abilities in the young and young at heart–and have a lot of fun doing it.





Play More…Play is for grown ups too.

playmore-logoPlay More is a series of posts presenting the value of play.  Play, for both children and adults, is as essential to health as are eating well, exercising and diet. Integrating play into the family unit, increases emotional bonds, a sense of well being, and is an element of successful navigation in an ever growing complex world.

This post is based on, “The Healing Potential of Adults at Play”, by Dottie Ward-Wimmer retrieved 2/16/2017

When at play, both our analytical and creative mind interacts in a symbiotic, relaxed nature that increases the flow of creativity and elicits a feeling of a relaxed state.  In this relaxed state of being our body is able to better support the biological needs such as breathing, digestion, and heart functions.  Play allows the “unwinding” of stress that attacks the immune system.  There are several books about increasing outdoor activities and getting involved in a sport and although this is strongly supported, not many talk about the health aspects of simple play.  No competition (not even with yourself), no rules, just simple play as found in coloring, tinkering, toy cars, action figures or dolls.

Dottie writes, “Play can increase our self esteem.  It invites access to states of well-being and calm as well as stillness and joy.  When released in play, we often have an increased capacity for empathy and intimacy.”  She goes on to support the premise for adult play therapy stating that it releases stress, increases confidence, and connects adults to the joy projected on the things loved in childhood.  “Play is a natural and enduring behavior in adults.  It has healing powers for the mind and spirit that we are only beginning to appreciate and learn to use.”

Take the time to Play More.  You have earned it; your mind and body need it.

Braiding Tatiana’s Hair in Micro Braids and Beads—Helpful Hints

  1. Work in small sections.IMG_5414
  2. Use a spray bottle with detangling solution to help brush out each section and split it into three smaller sections for braiding. Only brush out the section of hair that will be braided. Consider the size of the opening of the beads you are using when determining how much hair each section will contain.
  3. First, braid the hair around the face, braiding it in the direction you would like it to hang. Start the braiding close to the scalp but don’t make the braids tight. (This is the only place where you will start the braids close to the scalp.)
  4. Next, braid the top of the head. Make sure you cover the scalp of the head by carefully selecting each section’s hair. (You may need to play a little and cross hair from one section to the other to cover the scalp. There is not only one way to do this.  Do what looks good to you.) Start the braiding away from the scalp to ensure good coverage of hair over the scalp.
  5. Once you have completed the top of the head, continue using the same method, working your way down. Take extra care at the base of the neck if you plan on doing up-dos. You will want to make sure that you cross hair over to cover the scalp so when you pull the hair up, scalp does not show.
  6. Do not be in a hurry to complete the braiding. Micro braiding takes time, but is easy to care for and lasts a very long time.  You will be able to do many fun styles with a head full of micro braids.  The look in the picture has 60 braids.
  7. Use a bead threaded to help pull the beads on to the ends and secure with a matching rubber band that is non-damaging.
  8. Brush the ends around your finger to give them a uniformed curl. You may need to trim the ends.

Here are some simple braiding instructions for the first time braider:


Live Inspired.

Every moment that you give, more will be returned to you.  But you have to be still and allow the gifts to embrace you.  Gifts of money, notoriety, success are fleeting. The gifts that quiet the hunger of the sole are only found through others, through appreciation of what we have a peace that is found when you touch the maker.

This TED Conference video was passed on to me as a thank you for time I had donated.  I believed this gift of beauty is greater than anything I could contribute to your day.

RianforestWhy do I design dolls?  Why do I write children’s books?  Why have I chosen to live with less for the chance to leave a smile behind?

In this video Louie Schwartzberg said it best, “We protect what we fall in love with.”

I’m in love with the innocence of children.  I’m in love with the way a doll captures and preserves the warmest of memories from our pasts.  I’m in love with reflecting the beauty of diversity.  I’m in love with the potential of every mind, every heart. But most of all, I’m in love with you.  I love every post, every picture, every family and every girl or boy.

TatianaBeach2I want to protect innocence.  I hope to preserve and cherish your childhood memories or rewrite them if need be to erase pain.  I want to celebrate diversity in such a way that we are enhanced and elated by our differences.  I hope to encourage each to reach for their greatest dream, to love learning and exploring.  And if you are lonely, I want to provide a family where you know you are loved.

Via E is not a toy company…it is a family where dreams are the steps to the best that life can offer.

I hope for you to live inspired.  Inspiration is all around…and you are my inspiration.

From my heart to yours,



My Curly Hair Adventure

The world of curls is so very wonderful! Like all things of wonder, these beautiful curls have their own set of care requirements.  Understand these, the reward is a multitude of hair styles and fun!

Since I was not born with the gift of curls, I have had to research how to take care and manage curly hair so Tatiana Dollfriend® families can keep Tatiana’s curly hair beautiful.  I have tried several combs, brushes, hair products…even fabric softener (Tatiana’s hair is synthetic.)  I came to my own conclusions but realized what I should do is ask the experts–curly hair girls.

What I found was a fun world of hair styles, and set routines that were followed.  Many of these tips confirmed what I discovered while playing with Tatiana’s hair, but it was so much more fun learning from others.  Here is a set of Tatiana hair care suggestions:

What you will need:  A spray bottle and a large WetBrush (I found combs to pull and break hair too easily.  (WetBrush hairbrush product’s bristles flex so they don’t break or pull out the hair.)


Dry brushing curly hair will cause it to expand and  tangle easier.  Instead dampen the hair to help manage. (Remember, Dollfriends® can get wet.)

  1. Using a spray bottle, dampen the hair. Add a product that lubricates the synthetic hair into your spray bottle.  This can be fabric softener, a natural products hair conditioner or detangler solution.  (avoid products with paraben)
  2. Use your fingers to separate the hair strands and remove any large tangles.
  3. Next, section the hair into smaller sections and brush the wet hair starting at the tips and working upward toward the head.
  4. Once you have brushed through all of Tatiana’s hair, rinse it with warm water to remove any product on the hair. (Keep water away from Tatiana’s eyes and be sure to blow out any water that ends up in her eyes.)
  5. Using a towel, pat dry Tatiana’s hair and then use a scrunching motion to encourage the curls to reform.  Trim off any loose hair to finish.

During playtime, use a large hair clip or hair scrunchy to help keep Tatiana’s hair from tangling. There are several hair styles that will help keep Tatiana’s hair in good shape while also providing a lot of fashion fun! While dressing and undressing Tatiana, remember to always lift Tatiana’s hair away while putting on or taking off clothing that uses Velcro.  (The Velcro male side has small hooks that can capture hair.)

One of my goals in making Dollfriends® is to help girls learn about each other and appreciate the amazing differences that make life so wonderful.  My curly hair adventure was very fun.  I learn a lot more than just how to care for curly hair, but also about girls of mixed race and their challenges.  Life is not without challenges for any of us.  But by learning about the challenges of others, we realize that we are not alone in our own challenges.  AND our compassion and understanding of others makes us better people and better friends.

Here are a few of my favorite videos.  The girls in these videos each have unique personalities and styles, and each made me smile and applaud their creativity and desire to help others.  I hope you enjoy them too!

NOTE:  NEVER use blow dryers on Dollfriend® hair.  The videos below are instructions for real girl hair.  Have fun!

How to Take Care of Curly Hair || Curly Hair Routine

BIGGEST Curly Hair Mistakes! (Curly Penny)

20 Curly Hairstyles

Curly Hair Weekly Routine – 3b/3c hair