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Thursday, June 24, 2010

New product line coming soon: Kids Love Mail character letters

Children love to get mail. My 5 -year old enjoys checking the mail every day, always hoping there will be something in it for her. To actually receive a piece of mail addressed to her is a true joy and really makes her day. It's such a simple thing to send a letter but in our world of text messages, emails, and Face Book, it is quickly becoming a lost art. Yet children can learn so much from reading or composing a simple letter. It is an activity that boosts creativity, penmanship, proper grammar, and can be downright enjoyable. That is especially so if the letter the child is reading comes from a friend or pen-pal.

Thus an idea was born.

As a homeschooling mom of three, I appreciate any chance to squeeze in some educational activities into my children's day. I know the few times my children had pen-pals they were excited about it. Unfortunately pen pals don't always write back faithfully and before long, we find that all correspondence has stopped.

As a small business owner specializing in hand-crafted products, I am constantly aware that a hot selling craft may become tomorrow's least desired object once the general population learns how to copy the product for themselves. I have two Etsy crafts stores and most of my sales come from the same two items: lip balms and bottle cap jewelry. Most everyone I know in the teen/tween realm has learned to make caps already, so I anticipate that in a few years, this current fad will die out. I am always on the lookout for a new product, a new idea. Because we homeschool and live on one income, I try to find ways to be able to stay home in my God-given role and still be a little bit of a financial help-meet to my sweet husband.

As a Christian mom, I long for good role models for my children. Especially for my daughter who is growing up too fast in an age of often less-than-ideal Hollywood women to model herself after.

When all these ideas merged (and with some help and ideas from fellow WAHMs over on the www.bizymoms.com network), I decided I could try to meet all these goals with one new simple idea: a character letter writing service for children.

You've probably seen ads where you can send x amount of money and get a letter from Santa at the North Pole or a letter from the Tooth Fairy. This is a similar idea but so much more. I have spent a few sleepless nights developing a series of characters to interact with your children by mail through one-time letter sales or via a yearly subscription service.

Just to give you an overview of what is to come, I'll have two services geared towards different ages.

The first and most basic service will be seasonal monthly letters to children ages 4-8 or so. These will be from characters such as Santa and the Tooth Fairy, but also Patty the Leprechaun, Hug-a-Bug, Sally Sunshine, Lady Liberty, Bubbles the Clown, Frostina the Snow Princess, Hoppy the Bunny, and more. Each letter packet will include some sort of coloring sheet or activity page, the personalized letter to the child, and fillers such as a simple craft kit, stickers, balloons, notepads, pencils, etc. On the child's birthday there will be a special letter with a small gift enclosed. Children will be encouraged to write back or draw pictures to send to me (the character) which will be acknowledged in the next reply letter. This is an early start to reading and writing letters and hopefully will plant some seeds in young minds. When my children were little I bought a subscription to a company that sent an educational packet by mail. They so looked forward to getting that little packet in the mail. I would be delighted to find out my character letters were sparking the same kind of interest in another child.

As excited as I am about the younger letter service, my heart is thrilled over the idea I have for my older character letter service. At present I will only be marketing it towards tween and elementary girls. It will not only plant the seeds of letter writing but will also be a way I can encourage girls to be godly and be their best. I am calling it the BFF Club and I am looking into getting a graphic artist to draw out the 6 characters I have floating in my head.

Meet the characters:
Chloe-fun-loving, friendly, popular, a true friend who throws the best parties
Lily-a dreamer, artsy, crafty, creative, always has a vision and sees it through
Laurel-loves to read and is an excellent student but also makes time for hanging out and having fun
Star- a naturalist and animal lover, she likes to take care of God's world and all the living creatures in it
Adrienne-a fashionista and shop-a-holic, wants to be a fashion designer and live in Milan or Paris; she teaches girls how to be cute and trendy while dressing modestly
Alex-fitness and sports are where its at; she teaches girls to be healthy and fit and to glorify God with their bodies

My newsletter software will allow me to produce a nice letter from a different girl each month. The characters will share all sorts of things from tips on doing well in school to themed-party ideas to recipes and volunteer opportunities. There will also be a Bible verse to memorize each month and a section called "Hear it, Learn it, Live it" where girls learn to apply the memory verse to their lives. Another regular feature will be the "Be a Better Me" section where each character learns to work on an aspect of her life to be more godly. For example, Chloe is everyone's best friend, but sometimes she feels caught up in the other girl's squabbles. What does God's word say about being a friend? About being a peacemaker? As Chloe examines her own life and its problems, she will be able to give practical advice to other real girls like her who might be going through a similar experience. Short articles and graphics will hold girl's attention. There will also be links to safe websites where girls can learn and grow and receive free items.

On top of all this, each letter will include something fun--a small trinket or gift, a craft kit, a homemade beauty product safe for young skin, a jewelry item, etc. And on the child's birthday, parents can request a custom letter from the character of their choice written to the child, along with a birthday gift. The BFF Club is part character letter service, part pen pal service, part craft club, all rolled into a fun, Christian theme. It will available soon at www.whimsylanecreations.etsy.com so be sure to check it out.

I welcome your feedback and comments on this endeavor.


craft classes

Mc Minnville:
Watch for postings from me about future craft classes for kids and adults...coming soon to Et Cetera on Main Street.

TOS Crew: my second time to be a mate

I am very excited to be chosen again to be on the TOS Homeschool Crew. This is the third year of the voyage and my second time around to try out wonderful free products. God provided this opportunity for me as a confirmation that, yes, I am to homeschool again this year. My husband has been physically ill for months and is now back at work. We are blessed to see him able to work again, but it has been a hard year emotionally and financially. We have had some very trying lessons to learn about God's provision and our own faith-walk. I know I spent more time on my knees this year than I have in a long time. I think God likes to remind us that this world is not our home and there is a much better place to look forward to. If we never had trials here, we wouldn't feel as though we need Him or Heaven. The trials are hard to go through and hard to understand but they keep us grounded in Him. My mother-in-law is a godly woman who says we can choose to become bitter or better after a trial. I am hoping we learn to be better.

My friend Angela likes to remind me of how diamonds are created through intense pressure and heat. Look how beautiful they become! How rare and of how much worth. How much more beautiful are we to our Lord after a period of refining by fire!

I pray blessings upon all moms and those who are going through a difficult leg of life's journey. But I especially pray and hold dear to my heart those who are committed to the cause of homeschooling and all the details it encompasses.