Sunday school has come home--or at least to your home computer. If you are looking to extend and enhance your child's home Bible study, these interactive CD-ROMs offer choices that are fun and rewarding, while they teach moral and spiritual lessons. Like many children's products, most are based on popular licenses and characters found in other media, but with a Christian-values twist.
Old Testament Favorites
Brighter Child
Ages: 3-8
Contents: 3 CD-ROMs
Availability: Amazon.com, Christian bookstores and www.brighterchild.com
  • Chapter and Verse: A delightful collection of children's CD-ROMs at a terrific price
  • Added value: Interactive music programs

    Each of Brighter Child's Old Testament Favorites--Young David Activity Center, Noah's Ark Activity Center, and Moses in the Land of Egypt--is sold separately, but look for the package of all three, which is available in stores at a great low price.

    All three CDs use simple but well-designed animation and multimedia elements, so the stories are all completely understandable, making the activities lot of fun. Kids can follow the path of young David as he goes from gentle shepherd boy to King of Israel, then play with mazes, slingshot aiming (remember Goliath?), a trivia quiz, plus a delightful musical section where kids can place period instruments on a grid and listen to the arrangements they've created.

    The Moses story is viewed by clicking on the illustrated scenes and listening to an audioplay, or kids can use the "Pick a Scene" section. Here, the basic grid is the same but features "clickables," including mini-videos. As with the David story, there are a series of related games such as "Red Sea Maze," "Swat the Gnats," plus a trivia section.

    The Noah's Ark story, tailor-made for children, also includes games based on building and preparing the ark, feeding and caring for the animals during the voyage, and then returning to dry land blessed with a magnificent rainbow.

    Adventures in Odyssey 3D CD-ROM Interactivity Game
    Rhinosoft Interactive
    Ages: 8 and up
    Contents: Two programs on two CD-ROMs, plus a softcover book
    Availability: Christian bookstores and www.rhinosoft.com

  • Chapter and verse: Though well produced with plenty of "interactivity," users may be frustrated by having to complete sections in order to proceed to the next.
  • Added value: If you are a fan of the Odyssey series, this is your title.
  • Adventures in Odyssey is inspired by the "values-based" video and audio series of the same name from Focus on the Family. Though not a prerequisite, it should be noted that familiarity with the series and its characters, including Whit, Eugene, Dylan, and perky pooch Sherman, is a plus. It opens with some promising choices such as "The Mystery of the Roses," "The Robot," and "Games Center." However, the user soon discovers they cannot explore these sections independently. Instead, the player must progress through the CD-ROM sequentially, starting with the first game "Scavenger Hunt," which must be completed fully before moving on. Not always an easy task.

    Odyssey is intended to teach Christian values by rewarding player's ethical choices. "Scavenger Hunt" isn't just a list of items for players to find, it's also a cast of characters for the player to help along the way. With pleasant animation and clever gaming premises, much of this can be fun; however, the "help" can be trivia questions and games the average 8-year-old might not be able to master easily (though patience is a virtue). Once you navigate successfully through all sections, you're free to revisit them at your leisure, but don't forget to save your game--or it's back to the beginning.

    Adventure Bible Handbook: The Rescue
    Zondervan Interactive/Harper Collins Interactive
    Ages: 10 and up
    Availability: Christian booksellers and www.zondervan.com

  • Chapter and verse: An interesting but fairly basic and costly title
  • Added value: Easy to understand and play
  • Even with an amusing "Star Wars"-inspired opening sequence, Adventure Bible Handbook: The Rescue lacks the sophistication of more recent software. That's not to say kids won't enjoy playing "Handbook," because it's got an inherent "hip" charm, but most players will sail right through the initial games.

    Five friends make up the Adventure Bible Team. Early on, their little green buddy Froggo has been kidnapped by Max, the resident bad guy. Max has placed three "bombs" along a winding path, made up of classic Bible stories from Creation to Revelation. The team enters each story, diffuses the bombs, and eventually rescues Froggo. Three components make up each story's database: mini-movies, pictures, and the Scripture.

    Clicking on links in the Scripture, plus viewing the movie and pictures, dismantle the bomb. It should be noted that the bombs and any ensuing explosions are portrayed as mild caricatures, not graphic scenarios. More games--puzzles and "Name That Verse"--await players afterward. Basic as it is, "Handbook" can be an entertaining respite for the younger set.

    McGee's New Media Kids' Bible
    Tyndale New Media
    Ages: 5 and up
    Contents: CD-ROM and one paperback book
    Availability: Amazon.com and Christian booksellers

  • Chapter and verse: Inspirational interactive activities surrounding popular video-series character McGee
  • Added value: Mini-movies and an engaging Bible story section
  • Even if those not familiar with McGee from other disks will enjoy the pint-sized host of this neatly produced CD-ROM. McGee's New Media Kids' Bible can best be described as a Bible activity center. It doesn't follow any linear path or tell any adventure story: users simply choose from a variety of main menu options, including a library section with 75 Bible stories. These stories are presented in a dual window format, with beautiful visuals and melodious readings from the Scriptures.

    Also included are six instructional mini-movies starring McGee. With titles that include "Humility Always Works" and "Trust in God no Matter What," these movies show the practical applications of Christian teaching in every kid's favorite format--cartoons! After the teachings, players can enjoy painting pictures in the art department, listening to inspirational music on the Jukebox in the music section, playing a virtual version of the board game "Sticky Situations," and piecing together puzzles. There is also the prerequisite trivia section with three levels of expertise. McGee's Bible is a pleasant, well-rounded virtual experience.

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