Ups and Downs

There have been ups and downs, triumphs and challenges…But we end our second session with so much joy! I am so proud of our heroes and their growth!!!

Being on a Hero’s Journey isn’t always easy. It means that things won’t always be perfect. It means constantly striving for growth and pushing yourself-even when you feel discouraged. It also means doing the tough things-working out conflict instead of avoiding it, setting high goals, and developing the mindset that you can do anything! In a world that praises perfection, the Hero’s Journey often seems foreign. We want success, but we sometimes forget that success might happen right away, but it might also require overcoming obstacles, facing failure, and putting in lots of hard work.

This session has definitely had some challenges, but this week marked a major milestone in many of our heroes’ journeys. During Core Skills, many of our heroes were extremely challenged with their stretch goals. A few of them were discouraged or unsure whether or not they would be able to meet them (and go to see Wonder). However, our heroes DID NOT allow themselves to give up! Right up to the last minute on Friday afternoon, our heroes worked hard on accomplishing their stretch goals. The ones who were finished even used free time to help heroes who were still working!! It was AMAZING! Their hard work payed off too-Not only did every hero meet their stretch goals, but they learned some LIFE-CHANGING lessons in the process. When asked what lessons were learned this session, these were some responses from our heroes:


  • “I learned that I can do a LOT more that I thought I could.”
  • “I learned how to manage my time better.”
  • “I learned that I need to push myself more.”
  • “I learned  that I really can do all things through Christ.”
  • “I learned how to prioritize better because we had so much going on.”


In addition to meeting their stretch goals, our heroes also worked hard at preparing for Thursday’s exhibition. They helped one another create and label the finishing touches in their work, practiced presenting, and also dissected some sea creatures!!

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Other Highlights This Week Included:

  • One hero prepared and lead a group activity for his Character Badge. He did an amazing job, and the heroes all had helpful feedback for him!
  • Our heroes began telling some Epic stories to each other during lunch time this week (and organized this on their own)! A few of them have a major gift in this area!
  • Going to see “Wonder” was a positive experience for our heroes! 🙂
  • On Friday, our heroes created lists of what they were Thankful for. It was so encouraging to hear what they are grateful for, and how they will foster a heart of gratitude this season!!
  • On Friday, our heroes also had the chance to reflect on their Exhibition experience. This was INVALUABLE! Our heroes have so many great ideas for improving future experiences (managing time better, helping each other, and incorporating more of their knowledge from experiences)!


Discussion Questions This Week Included:

  • Would you rather be remembered as being smart, or being kind?
  • You have 3 days to accomplish a huge challenge. Which is most important in meeting your goal?
    • Asking a friend for help when you get stuck
    • Prioritizing what you need to do to accomplish your goal
    • Doing the hard things you don’t feel like doing
    • Staying focused and not allowing for distractions
  • Which is MOST important to a person’s success? Which do you think played the largest role in  Ezra’s story?
    • Having faith
    • Challenging/pushing yourself
    • Keeping a positive attitude
  • How was preparing for the Marine Science Quest different from preparing for previous Quests? How prepared do you feel (on a scale from 1-5)?


I hope you all have a wonderful and refreshing Thanksgiving week! Blessings!!



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Storytelling Time!

Success is a Journey … to the Deep

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Our heroes’ journey to the deep truly was a success. Although we do believe that doing is often more important than the outcome, we are so proud of what our heroes were able to accomplish during our marine science quest. From the very beginning of our quest, each hero demonstrated that they have what it takes to succeed. They had a clear vision of what they wanted to do: to care for our oceans. Why? Because God said so. So with determination and dedication, they believed they can do anything. Either as explorers and inventors, they were unstoppable. Even with just a few cardboard scraps and recycled materials, they believed they were changing the world. They remained passionate throughout our quest, whether in building a coral reef or submarine, painting egg cartons and recycled materials, writing ocean books, researching ocean habitats, or dissecting marine animals. They were filled with joy in all they do for they believed in their hearts that all that they were doing and learning would truly make a difference in the world.

As we reflected on our marine science quest, it was a challenge for our heroes to pick the most important lesson they learned about our oceans, for they truly have learned so much that cannot be even be measured or may not have even been revealed as of yet.

What is the most important lesson you learned during our Marine Science Quest?

Aiden learned that the ocean needs our help.

Amelia learned that sharks need oil in their bodies so they won’t sink.

Annabelle learned that the ocean has trash in it.

Clara learned that she didn’t like dissecting.

Cole learned to invent and make things.

David learned that dogfish sharks have little hearts.

Evi learned that dissecting is really fun!

Lulu learned that helping the ocean is really important.

Madison learned that we could help the ocean.

Simon learned that Evi’s submarine had lots of things.


Our marine animals dissection truly was a unique learning experience for our heroes. For some, it took courage to try and learn new things, as well as in making the choice to find other ways to learn. And for others, it was a path to self-discovery, as they found themselves doing something they have never done before and wanting to do more.

Our heroes’ thankful hearts were bursting with gratitude for so many things while making their thank you cards during writer’s workshop. And even without specific instructions on who to address their cards to, our heroes knew who to thank for all their blessings and wrote, “Thank you, God!”

Running with Learning

ME: How much are you challenging yourself at Journey Academy? If you were to describe your pace on The Hero’s Journey of earning a badge, would you say that you are walking, jogging, or sprinting towards it?


HERO 1: I would say that I’m jogging, because I’m  moving pretty fast, but I could probably challenge myself more.


HERO 2: Well, I think I’d be crawling because I haven’t really been feeling like doing my work and it’s been harder to move.


On Wednesday morning, our heroes evaluated their progress towards earning badges. While some felt confident that they were trying their best, others felt they’ve been distracted or moving more slowly.

When asked whether or not they needed higher levels of accountability (such as posting points publicly), our heroes did not like the idea. However, through discussion, they were able to come up with ways to encourage each other to strive for more. There were 3 heroes who were working on Khan Academy, and they decided they would work together. 2 more heroes decided they wanted to use project time to catch up on goals they hadn’t been able to reach. Through the rest of the week, was a steady rhythm of  work being accomplished in the studio. A few heroes were even  able to accomplish their “stretch goals”!

Not only have our heroes really been rising to the challenge academically, but also relationally. During lunch time, the younger heroes enjoyed playing the board game, “Quelf” together. They have been able to laugh, be silly, and also learn a lot about one another. This has transferred to project time, and our heroes continue to laugh together while helping each other prepare for our upcoming exhibition.


A Few Other Highlights This Week Included:

  • On Monday, our heroes had a blast learning about Marine Science at The Shedd Aquarium!

  • This week, our heroes read through Galatians Chapter 5 and learned what it means to “Walk by The Spirit.”

  • Today, our heroes combined studios to take part in a giant wave science experiment!


Questions This Week Included:

  • Do you think Sea World should exist?

  • What do you think MOST effects your experience in the studio?

    • Other people and the way you interact

    • How much you challenge yourself

    • The cleanliness of the studio

    • What you eat

  • What qualities make a hero?

  • Would you rather accomplish an easy goal, or almost accomplish (but fail) to achieve a high goal?

Rising to the Challenge

Every day at Journey Academy,  you can depend on our heroes to rise to the challenge. Our early learner love challenging themselves when they are given the freedom to choose what to do for core skills time. When choosing a book, they are not afraid to pick a book at a higher reading level. When doing math work, they thrive on learning new and advanced concepts and mastering skills no matter how many tries it might take. They consistently demonstrate their willingness to take risks and support each other to achieve their goals. Their freedom in learning empowers them to be resourceful in finding answers to their questions, be inventive in finding solutions to problems, and creative in finding ways to learn.

Time flies when you are having fun. So when our heroes are focused on their reading using Lexia, Kids a-z, Starfall, or Epic,  they understandably lose track of time and sometimes do not realize it is already time for play-based learning, a much anticipated time of the day. Some heroes even opt out of play-based learning materials and prefer to continue reading, which to them is much more fun!

Our heroes are learning so much about our oceans so they made a book for each ocean during writer’s workshop. Each hero contributes at least one page to add to the book. They picked their favorite marine animal from each ocean to illustrate and write about. They created detailed illustrations describing their marine animals to friends while doing their writing. They helped each other construct and spell their sentences. Their conversations around the writing table while making their ocean books demonstrated their joy in learning about marine science and all they have learned about the ocean creatures. Our young readers love reading these ocean books to each other and they applaud each friend for every page they authored. They are so excited to read their books to their families during the exhibition!


Our young marine scientists had fun making their ocean dioramas. They challenged each other when identifying the correct habitats for their ocean creatures. They discussed amongst one another if each specific marine animal would like the warm waters of the Pacific ocean or have the adaptations to survive the cold waters of the Arctic ocean. They also made sure the animals have food to eat in their habitats.  They researched in their Chromebooks when they were not sure.It was quite a sight to see how our young marine biologists apply all that they have been learning about marine science in creating their dioramas.

Likewise, our inventors got busy adding finishing touches to their submarines and submersibles, adding more gadgets that would make them effective in cleaning the ocean and saving our beloved marine animals. They were so passionate about making a difference and changing the world. When they watched some videos during our discussions, they were genuinely concerned and so heartbroken to see all the trash in the ocean. Thus, our young world-changers resolved to keep looking for litter and they were more than eager to pick them up and put them where they should go, keeping in mind the 3R’s, Reduce-Recycle-Reuse. They have even made it a game as they all challenge each other to find the most litter every time we go outside for recess. Despite the bleak reports from marine scientists on the current conditions of our oceans, we were filled with hope that our future marine scientists would truly care for our oceans.

During our discussions, as we continue reading Galatians with a focus on the fruits of the Spirit, our heroes have devised several strategies to help each other practice self-control. One hero shared that using kind words helps him practice self-control. Another hero suggested that if asking nicely does not work, 3B4G worked for her when she asked a friend to help her. They also agreed that walking away and taking deep breaths were the most effective strategies to practice self-control. Most heroes share about practicing self-control not only at school but especially at home with their siblings. And you may have heard many of our heroes singing our little self-control song, “Stop, take a breath and make the right choice.” ♬ At the end of the week, they faced the challenge of our self-control test and proved that they had what it takes to resist eating a giant marshmallow in front of each of them, even when Ms. Elsie had to go to the “bathroom” (but she was actually just standing outside the door listening), with the hope of another marshmallow when she gets back if they still have their first marshmallow. The heroes could be heard encouraging each other to imagine it was something else or sing our self-control song. The challenge seemed too easy for them that they even begged to do the challenge again.

Spreading Kindness

What a blessing to witness our heroes spread kindness wherever they go! You would hear them using kind words when they talk to their friends. One hero wholeheartedly gives compliments to her friends. Another hero joyfully offers a helping hand to another during clean up, regardless who made the mess. One hero resolves conflicts in kindness. It is so wonderful to also hear stories from home when our Journey Academy heroes spread kindness to their families.  We have been reflecting each day during our discussions on how we will try a little kindness during the day. Then we close our days with multiple reports of how their friends showed them kindness and how friends encouraged them with kind words.

Our heroes are becoming such creative and enthusiastic storytellers. They all eagerly await their turns to be the storyteller throughout the week. Every storyteller picks such engaging books to read to their friends, capturing the audience’s attention with their own enthusiasm in the way they read their books. They pick books they can read on their own from Kids a-z, followed by some comprehension questions for friends. Sometimes they pick an audiobook from epic or Starfall. Many friends also pick marine science books and share all their knowledge about their favorite ocean creatures. Then, they are eager to listen to the next chapter in Mr. Popper’s Penguins, using their imagination since chapter books do not have many pictures. Yet this does not dampen our young readers’ fascination for Mr. Popper’s Penguins.

Our heroes are becoming spelling masters when we practice spelling on the whiteboard. They are learning to stretch their words, identify their beginning and ending sounds, and listen to the vowel sounds carefully.  They are also reminding each other how to spell common sight words.


Our heroes have been discovering many marine animals in every ocean around the world. They have been researching for the most interesting ocean creatures to add to our ocean murals. They have also been adding their very own undiscovered ocean creatures and have named themselves just like how marine biologists and explorers do.




 Our field trip to John Ball Zoo was another opportunity for our heroes to spread kindness. They were sincerely concerned for the welfare of the animals that they were excited to clean up around the zoo and fill their bags with litter.

Our heroes had an invaluable time with their EMS buddies as Bible Buddies this week. Our early learners have been reading Galatians so they showed their buddies the chapters that we have finished. And what a blessing to hear the older heroes read the Word of God with love and compassion for their little buddies. No wonder Journey Academy heroes are overflowing with kindness for they are filled with the power of the Word of God!

Our Hero’s Journey Continued

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This week, the elementary/middle school heroes faced new challenges, changes within the studio, answered difficult questions, and enjoyed the sweet gift of friendship. The Hero’s Journey is an adventure-filled with risks, challenges, joy, struggle, and change-but it also leads to a kind of personal growth that cannot be fabricated. Our heroes have truly been embracing the journey, and I could not be more proud of them.


On Monday, our heroes continued tackling their “stretch goals” in math, reading, and writing. These goals were designed to push them farther into their challenge zones. In addition, our heroes also continued reading Wonder. This has been a fantastic experience! The majority of the heroes have been anticipating this part of the day, and so far, they have completed nearly half of the book! It is fun to see them enjoying this experience and growing deeper in their friendships through literature.


During project time, our heroes began studying animals of the deep sea. Each hero has been studying a deep sea creature that is specific to one of the earth’s 5 oceans.The heroes have been researching and writing about these creatures, and created paper machė animals to represent them.


Next week, we will continue learning about the deep by visiting the Shed Aquarium (on Monday), studying food webs, and continuing independent studies on a question our heroes have selected to study in more depth.


Questions This Week Included:

  • Whose spirit of excellence do you most relate to?
    • King David
    • Daniel
    • Joseph
    • Naaman’s slave girl
    • The Boy with 5 fish and 2 loaves of bread
  • If you had the opportunity to go scuba diving deep in the ocean, but you knew the pressure would be unforgiving and the temperatures below freezing, would you still go?
  • What are some adaptations you have learned about this week?
  • If you could travel to any of the world’s oceans, which one would you go to? Why?
  • How do you know if you are creating excellent work?
  • What stories can you think of that follow The Hero’s Journey?