Why We Do This

Character Building 101 is a division of Special Ideas Inc., which has been producing materials dedicated to making the world a better place since 1981. We started by producing materials about peace, racial harmony, religious unity and equality of women and men. We developed a loyal band of customers who often recommended products that they felt were needed. Over time, this led us to focus more and more on personal development, character building and child education.  The new products we developed needed an outlet that was less oriented towards social or religious movements and more towards promoting good character in both children and adults. Thus, Character Building 101 was born as your source for classroom safe character building materials.

CharacterBuilding101.com is our newest endeavor, dedicated to the idea that learning about virtues starts with babies and continues until the day we die.  While primarily created for teachers, parents and others who work with children, we also produce materials to help adults make virtues a central focus of their lives. But don’t worry. We don’t think that developing our virtues should be a job. It should be a joy. We want to make learning about virtues easy and fun.  To do that, we have designed and produced hundreds of unique items, and hand-picked dozens more, that we ship out from our 3,000 sf warehouse in Indiana.

Normally, we are here Monday – Friday 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM EST to talk with you. We’re closed on holidays and weekends.

Personal History

Back when I was a mother of three (soon to be five), I decided to add a PhD to my two masters degrees. With children in my life and on my mind, I chose to get a degree in Instructional Systems Technology as part of the Indiana University School of Education. This is a fancy way of saying that I studied how to use technology in the field of education. By the time I was ready to write my dissertation, I had two new little ones in my life. I decided to research the effectiveness of character education programs in public schools. This helped inspire the shift in focus of our family business.

You see, I am married to a man who decided at a young age to devote his life to making the world a better place. He had been producing inspiring materials long before I met him, but lacked some of the practical skills (like programming and web design) needed to really make his business flourish. I eventually gave up my job at IU to run his business, and it began to take off. Many of the items sold by CharacterBuilding101.com were originally produced for Special Ideas and are already popular. This site was created to reflect the more personal focus of the newer products, and to bring all of them to the attention of a greater number of people.


We believe there is a strong relationship between emotions and virtues. Learning about virtues helps us to understand our emotions and respond to situations in a healthier manner.  To help people learn this language, we have created a wide range of products that introduce both adults and children to the names and definitions of the character qualities that reside within them. These character qualities are what guide our daily interactions. From ABC Virtue Refrigerator Magnets for kids to Character Coins for adults, we want the words that describe your emotional environment to be as well known to you as the colors of your crayons or the letters of the alphabet.

When you teach the language of virtues, you empower your child’s emotional intelligence. Too many people associate “virtues” with prudishness, rigidity and self-sacrifice rather than joy, creativity and community-building. At CharacterBuilding101, we believe that practicing virtues feels good. In fact, the name of a virtue often tells us just how good it can feel to practice it. The virtue of Joy makes us feel Joyful. Likewise, the virtue of Patience makes us feel Patient; Gratitude makes us feel Grateful; Kindness makes us feel Kind. These emotional responses to virtues feel good. Good character is a gift, not a burden.

Understanding the relationship between the vocabulary of virtues and the language of emotions means that, as children learn to identify, understand and appreciate their character strengths, they also come to understand their emotions – and the emotions of others. This understanding – gained while still young – will serve them well throughout their lives.

How You Can Help

We are always open to ideas for new products. Do you have an idea that would make character education easy? What do you wish you had to help you make teaching character or practicing virtues easier? Please send us your thoughts and tell us know how you are using our products to expand your virtue vocabulary.

Finally, even if you don’t purchase a thing, thank you for visiting this page and for your interest in making the world a little better. Please consider signing up for our newsletter at the bottom of each page. We promise not to send you too much – just new product announcements and character education ideas.

Normally, we are here Monday – Friday 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM EST to talk with you. We’re closed on holidays and weekends.

If you have a need, suggestion or question, I very much want to hear from you. – Dr. Karen Saint Rain

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