Tuesday, November 25, 2008


Biblical History and Biblical truth are truly child’s play for One2Believe, a Christian toy company offering contemporary designed toys with the goal of providing “fun ways of teaching children about the greatest people who ever lived.” Biblical characters come to life in the
 form of action heroes, dolls and sets. Founder and CEO Dave Socha created One2Believe from a desire to provide support for parents “in their battle for their children's hearts and minds.” In addition to helping parents, the company supports Samaritan’s Purse, Hero Antigua, Focus on the Family, Family Life and other Southern California ministries.

This unique toy company sent me a wonderful Nativity set to "test" out for a review. I was thrilled when I first saw the box and easily removed the figures. I have always wanted a Nativity my children could play with without constant supervision. Most of the Nativity sets in our home are off limits to small children due to their fragile nature. My 4 year old son and 7 year old daughter were anxious to play soon after the toy arrived to our home. Even though it was the middle of October they acted as if Christmas were only days away as they carefully set the scene to welcome baby Jesus to the world.

The hard plastic set designed for small hands is perfect for ages 3 and older. It consists of 17 pieces including Mary, Joseph, Baby Jesus, 2 shepherds, 2 angels, a donkey, ram, ewe, 3 kings, a camel, the stable, a palm tree and a barrel of hay. It contains every necessary character to reenact the story of the birth of Christ. The retail price at the One2Believe online store is $24.99. I can think of no better way to welcome the beginning of the Christmas season each year than by taking this Nativity out of its box and letting the kids play.

Last Friday at our homeschool co-op, I taught a class of pre-school children about Christmas traditions in the country of France. As we discussed the importance of Nativity sets in the French culture, the children played with the One2Believe Nativity. I listened to them as they interacted with each other taking on the roles of Mary, Joseph, the angels and baby Jesus. The story of Christ’s birth was alive and well in our classroom because of this wonderful toy. I gave them all the option of leaving the toy and doing a small craft and all of the boys said, “No, we want to play!” Do children like these Biblically designed toys? Yes, yes, yes!

One2Believe offers five main categories of toys to date. These include the Messenger of Faith dolls/action figures, Tales of Glory figurine sets, Spirit Warriors action figures, P31 (Proverbs 31) 18” dolls, and a “Jesus Loves Me” stuffed bear.

The Messenger of Faith figures priced at $19.99 all include a doll who speaks scripture and a small storybook for the child to read. They are appropriate for children aged 3 and older. Jesus, Mary (mother of Christ), Esther, David, Moses, Noah, Peter and Paul come to life for children through these dolls. A 24” x 24” playmat is available for $5.99 to accompany the dolls on their adventures as they live out the well known Biblical accounts of their lives and ministries.

The Tales of Glory sets are priced at a reasonable $7.99 and include small figures and a mini story book. They are sized for a small child’s hand making them perfect for the pre-school set aged 3 and older. Ten different Tales of Glory sets are available covering Biblical history of both the Old and New Testaments.

Two different Spirit Warrior action figures are currently available priced at $24.99 each. Samson and Goliath, large, man-sized dolls towering at 13”come with removable clothing and weapons plus a colorful mini storybook. They are listed as appropriate for ages 3 and up.

The delightful Proverbs 31 dolls are designed to be an alternative to other 18” dolls currently available in the secular market. Girls may choose from Leah, Elisabeth or Abigail. The dolls arrive with a Bible lesson based on Proverbs 31, a cookie recipe and cookie cutters, an activity list and a contemporary clothing outfit. They are priced at $39.99 each and although listed as appropriate for ages 3 and up I would recommend them for ages 6 and up.

The Jesus Loves Me Bear sings and dances to the traditional song, “Jesus Loves Me”. Priced at $15.00 he is a cuddly friend for all ages.

As you begin your Christmas shopping don’t forget to visit One2Believe. Their vision and quality toys help the Bible come alive in your house through the eyes of a child

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Media Angels, Inc.

Looking for an inexpensive, exciting, wholesome adventure series for your tween-age reader? Media Angels, Inc. publishing http://www.mediaangels.com/, has just the series for you! The Truth Seekers Mystery Series, currently a series of three books with the fourth in production, take the topic of Creation Science and weave it into a contemporary, mystery adventure series with the help of main characters Christian and Anna Murphy, teen detectives. This series of novels, priced at only $8.99 per novel, is a wholesome choice for young readers searching for contemporary fiction designed to be a light read.

The Murphy teens, a brother and sister team, the oldest siblings in a not so typical homeschool family have a real knack for getting into trouble creating an adventure filled life only possible in a work of fiction. The kids’ father, former archeologist turned professional photographer, utilizes the help of Christian and Anna as he is drawn unknowingly into a dangerous mystery in the first of the adventure series, Missing Link: Found written by Christina and Felice Gerwitz.

“It’s a great story. It isn’t like a basic story like most books. It keeps you reading throughout the chapters, like a cliff hanger. It’s a great mystery!” (Micah, age 11)

Christina Gerwitz, age 17 and homeschooled at the time of writing the novel, provides a wonderful testimony to the dedication and determination of home education in the creation of this book. According to her mother, publisher and award winning author, Felice Gerwitz, “…Christina, at 14 said she wanted to write a mystery novel. I explained, ‘We don’t know how to write novels’ and she said, ‘That’s okay, Mom! We’re homeschoolers, we can learn how.’”

Literature study guides are available for the books in the Truth Seekers Mystery Series and include vocabulary, comprehension questions and answers, plot development, setting and characterization techniques, writing activities and suggestions for further study. In true homeschool style the guides are designed to be used independently by the student or directed by the parent. You choose the direction as you turn these fun-filled adventure novels into an English lesson or two.

Media Angels, Inc., a publishing company with a Christian focus, was founded by veteran homeschool mom, Felice Gerwitz. Gerwitz, a homeschool parent since 1986, has a wealth of wisdom, knowledge and encouragement to offer on her website. In addition to the Truth Seekers Mystery series Gerwitz has published a variety of services all available on the website.

A Creation Camp in a box product, designed for grades K-7, really caught my eye in the on-line store. This kit provided a camp backpack, t-shirt, lesson plans, directions, non-consumable materials, parent and student notebooks and a CD of original songs by Eagle Wings all for a low price of $45.95. As I read through the description I couldn’t help but imagine a group of homeschooled kids getting together once a week over the school year to investigate Creation Science captivated by this unique hands-on approach offered by “Camp in a Box”.

Other products offered at the Media Angels, Inc. on-line store include:

* on-line Creation science class

* Audio presentations to encourage and educate the homeschool teacher in the areas of science education and writing.

*Seminars on DVD covering a variety of homeschooling topics

*A Science Fair Abstract Review Service

*Science Kit

*Creation Science Lapbook

*Creation science based curriculum

If you are looking for a great read for your 8-12 year old or encouragement and education for all ages check out Media Angels, Inc. They have a wonderful product line and even some free resources designed to benefit contemporary homeschoolers.

Homeschool Library Builder

"So please, oh PLEASE, we beg, we pray, Go throw your TV set away, And in its place you can install, A lovely bookshelf on the wall."
— Roald Dahl, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

If you are a bibliophile like me than you will want to immediately stop reading this review and type in the web address for Homeschool Library Builder, http://www.hslibrarybuilder.com/, a wonderful on-line bookstore where you can “fill your bookshelves without emptying your wallet”.

The bright warm colors of the web pages accented in green seem to beckon you to turn or should I say click through the pages of this versatile on-line catalog. Homeschool Library Builder allows you to shop via various categories including new arrivals, clearance, activity books/crafts, anthologies/storybooks, award winners, biographies, Christian fiction, classics/literature, curriculum/teacher helps, fiction, gifts, hard-to-find/ collectibles, historical fiction, historical non-fiction, holiday/ seasons, inspirational, picture books, poetry/art/music, readers, reference, science, a search by country/region option and for those who can’t decide a browse all books category. There is also a search engine for those looking simply for a specific title.

The handy “search by curriculum” option allows you to find selections recommended for curricula such as “Five in a Row”, “Sonlight”, “Beautiful Feet”, “Veritas Press”, “Tapestry of Grace”, and “Ambleside On-line”. I found this particular category ingenious in saving me valuable time while shopping. For example, I clicked on Sonlight which led me to a choice of the different Cores. I next clicked on Core 100 which led me to a catalog page of titles consisting only of those used in that particular Core all at discounted prices! Each listing held a small colored photo of the cover of the book, author, reading level, type (ie. hard or soft cover), condition, small 1-2 sentence description, retail price and our price. The listings reminded me of the ease, clarity and professional quality of shopping on other on-line bookstores provided by major retailers, but much more useful because it was tailored to my particular curriculum choice. A handy “buy now” or “add to wishlist” button accompanied each listing allowing me flexibility with my shopping experience. When choosing the “buy now” option I was not burdened with a visit to my shopping cart, but rather the catalog page simply refreshed alerting me to the fact that the item had been added and I could continue shopping without breaking my concentration. Love it! A simple click on the “shopping cart” button on the webpage header granted access to my cart allowing me instant access to check my spending totals.

A unique category for the holidays created by store owners Julie Huffman and Gayla Weatherford was the “Operation Christmas Child” section. All the books categorized in this area of the catalog focused on the theme of gratitude and proceeds from the sales of these books will be donated to Samaritan’s Purse to fill shoe boxes for children in need. These items included a “free shipping” bonus for the purchaser allowing customers to easily choose to help children in need while building their personal library.

Other specials offered for the month of November included $1, $2, $3, and $5 bin sections of the catalog, free shipping for orders of $50 or more, and a free hard-cover copy of Squanto and The Miracle of Thanksgiving by Eric Metaxas.

For those looking for even greater bargains from this Christian family-run book business, “dedicated to providing great literature at affordable prices”, a free on-line membership to the store is available. Membership benefits include special e-mail notices of promotions and Book Points. Book Points are the epitome of a frequent buyer program earned for every dollar spent. Fifteen book points equal one dollar in an account for future purchases. Book points can also be earned by recommending friends to the web store or placing a link on your blog or website for the store.

Organizations looking to save or rather make money may take advantage of Homeschool Library Builder’s fundraising option where 20% or more of sale proceeds are donated to the organization; a great idea for support groups, co-ops and clubs. All shopping for the fundraiser is done on-line and managed by Homeschool Library Builder. What could be easier?!

Purchases can be made with Visa, Mastercard, PayPal, Book Points*, Gift Certificate or Personal Check. While you wait for your purchases you will want to spend some time perusing the “About Homeschooling” section of the website where you can access information regarding general homeschooling, the great books, educational resources and helpful blog links written by “real” homeschooling families. A special “spotlight on the season” section featuring scripture references, links to websites containing crafts, worksheets/lesson plans, science ideas, poems and rhymes all geared for the appropriate current season will keep you fully inspired as well.

With all that Homeschool Library Builder has to offer the homeschooling family the only other place you will need to shop is your local hardware store. You are going to need supplies to build more bookshelves in order to house all the great books purchased from Homeschool Library Builder!