Christmas Around The World: The Journey This Session


We hope you enjoyed our production of “Joy To Our World” at yesterday’s exhibition. Our heroes truly took ownership as they created a script, costumes and props, selected songs, and conducted practices. This was a HUGE task to take on, but they rose to the challenge once again. I could not be more proud of them!



One of the greatest challenges I face as a guide is allowing the heroes to learn through challenges without stepping in too much. As our heroes were putting together “Joy To Our World”, they faced many of these challenges. They needed to determine who would be best in each role (and using each person’s gifts, talents, and interests), respect and encourage authority (our middle school directors), and communicate (let each other know about changes in the script and getting the flow down). There were times during the process that I just wanted to tell the heroes what to do, or resolve conflict when changes were happening within the script-but I really wasn’t needed in that way. While I could ask our heroes questions about their parts, or how they were feeling about the play at times, they were completely capable of working independently!

Usually, we have a day to reflect on an Exhibition after it takes place, but due to the recent snow day, there wasn’t much time for it this session. Some questions our heroes may wish to explore over the break include:

  • What was the most challenging part of your Hero’s Journey this session?
  • What failures did you learn from during our “Christmas Around The World” quest?
  • What did you learn about yourself during this session?What brought you the most joy during this quest: Creating the play, Working with your studiomates, Blessing the refugees at Bethany Christian services, or something else?

It is such a blessing to see our heroes continually discovering new things about themselves and encouraging each other to grow. I have seen SO much from each and every one of them! I am truly thankful this season for the wonderful and unique individual that each hero is. They are truly world-changers!

I pray you have have a blessed time with your family and loved ones these next two weeks! This is such an amazing time of year, as it is a time to remember and celebrate Christ’s birth  and the life he died to give us freely. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!!

P.S. Your hero may want to consider selecting a new genre or some kind of challenging book to read over the break. It is definitely not a requirement, but it could be a fun way to get some reading in!

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Mission Accomplished

We hope that our Christmas around the world quest has brought you as much joy as it has filled our early learners studio for the past three weeks. What a unique learning experience we have had unlike other Christmases as we not only travel to all the continents of the world but also have a purpose for our quest: to spread joy to our world. And there is no other joy than to tell others about the true meaning of Christmas, Jesus!

This quest gave our young heroes valuable learning experiences that helped answer important questions:

What are my gifts, skills, passions?  

As they learned about many different cultures, because they had the freedom to make choices on their roles in the play, the countries to represent, the songs and dances, and even props and costumes, our heroes had the opportunity to discover their gifts, skills, and passions. They showed courage in trying new things and made decisions for themselves with what they would like to do for the play, what interests them, and even the choice to do something different. One hero encouraged her friends saying, “If you’re not very good at something, that means you are good at something else!” Heroes demonstrated their abilities to lead, collaborate, negotiate, and problem solve in preparations for the program.

Where is my place?

Learning about different Christmas traditions all around the world has enlightened our heroes to a deeper understanding of the world around them, as they discovered similarities and differences in various cultures. Our heroes were able to make connections and discovered where they fit in and where they stand out. Some heroes shared with pride regarding their ethnic heritage and culture. Other heroes were eager to say Merry Christmas in the language their grandparents spoke.

What is my calling?

Through this quest, our heroes demonstrated their readiness to answer the call to preach the Good News to all the world. Their hearts were burning with passion and eagerness to fulfill this mission, especially to those who have never heard about Jesus. They expressed a sense of understanding during our discussions that through our prayers and actions, even in performing in a Christmas play, they are proclaiming the message they were called to give.

Our heroes were beaming with pride and joy as they shared their plans to help refugees through our Christmas play with Christian Hawkins, the representative from Bethany Christian Services. Mr. Hawkins was very impressed with our heroes’ engagement and curiosity when he spoke about the refugees. Most heroes showed empathy for the refugees as Mr. Hawkins described their circumstances. They felt the urgency and need to help the families after all that they have experienced. Many heroes shared their own experiences helping the refugees. They were determined that they were answering the call to help the refugees and fulfill their calling through our Christmas around the world quest.

Throughout our Christmas quest, our heroes rarely spoke of gifts they wished for this Christmas. Instead, with unwavering faith, they knew exactly what gift they would give to Jesus for His birthday: their love and their life. One hero summed it up with the best gift he would give to Jesus, “I give Jesus, ME!”

Celebrate The True Meaning of Christmas!

As part of their journey  around the world, our heroes are learning how to say, “Merry Christmas” in many different languages. It is a fun way to appreciate the language and culture in places outside of The U.S. Yesterday, they also got the opportunity to work with Christy Haas to learn “Silent Night” in German. They will be performing this for you during the “Christmas Around The World” Exhibition.

In addition to learning about culture through language, our heroes have been diligently practicing their play. This includes learning and practicing the songs they’ve incorporated, memorizing their lines, and creating costumes. It’s been a LOT of hard work, but our heroes are doing an amazing job! Our middle school heroes have taken on a huge job as directors, but they are learning and growing so much!

Over the week, our heroes have not only been growing in their independence and leadership through the experience of putting on a play, but they have also been encouraged to remember and celebrate the true reason for Christmas: Christ’s Birth! We worship an amazing savior! As the week started, we looked at The Story of Christ’s birth in both Matthew and Luke. We also discussed what it means to worship our savior, and praised Him through song and readings from His word. We discussed what a true Biblical community looks like in God’s word (through prayer, fellowship, communion, and teaching), and how we apply that at Journey Academy.

During one discussion this week, our heroes recognized that there are ways they could improve the community here at Journey Academy. In yet another discussion, our heroes then revamped their  Hero’s Contract to improve the overall studio. They even selected a group of 3 heroes to be in charge of representing the group well by writing the final version.

Other Events This Week Included:

  • Amy Amash shared The Story of Saint Nicholas with our heroes on Wednesday. Everyone also received a special surprise in their shoes!!

  • The Hero’s have been writing The Nativity Story from a different perspective as part of their Writer’s Workshop. They will complete this next week!

Discussion Questions This Week Included:

  • What’s more inspiring: taking risks or persevering through challenges?

  • If you were alive before Christ, would you anticipate his birth? Do you anticipate his return? Would you want to be alive when he returns?

  • What does worship mean?

  • What does a Biblical Community look like?

  • What tools do you use at Journey Academy to resolve conflict? Do they work for you?

  • Would you ever correct your best friend? Would you ever ask your best friend for a Hero Buck? Is losing a Hero Buck “bad”?

Week at a Glance:

  • Next week, our heroes will be completing their session goals and their Writer’s Workshops on The Nativity Story.

  • Our heroes will practice their play and hold a dress rehearsal during project time.

  • The “Christmas Around The World” Exhibition will be held on Thursday, December 14th from 3:30-5:30 pm.

Have a wonderful and refreshing weekend! The Heroes are so excited to share their play with you at our Exhibition next week!

Heroes in Christ

As we hold true to our commitment to learn from missionaries around the world, our heroes have transformed themselves from being regular superheroes to becoming “Heroes in Christ.” So they no longer just call themselves superheroes, instead Heroes in Christ, because we serve Jesus and we have a special message to the world straight from God through the reading of His Word. Thus our Heroes in Christ remind each other of this message: telling others about Jesus, that “Jesus loves us”, “Jesus forgives our sins”, and “Jesus was born to save us!” Even our heroes’ prayers are filled with heartfelt gratitude for Jesus.

These young Heroes in Christ have been tackling challenging questions during our discussions this week. As we read about our characters in the Christmas story in Luke 1, including Mary and Joseph, and Elizabeth and Zechariah, we talked about how they may seem to be in a position wherein they did not get what they wanted at first. Elizabeth and Zechariah wanted a child, yet they remained without a child in their old age. Mary and Joseph did not want a child yet since they were not married yet. But even though they did not get what they wanted, they continued to serve God, obey Him, and praise Him in their lives. Then we discover later in their story that God did give Elizabeth and Zechariah a child. And Mary and Joseph became Jesus’ parents! And so our heroes reflect on the amazing work God does in our lives. They talked amongst themselves how they would feel and what they would do when they do not get what they want, especially during this Christmas season when they were all so excited to share their wishlist for Christmas presents. Yet they were determined and confident that when they do not get what they wanted, no matter how much they wished for it, they would “not throw a fit,” “be thankful for what they have,” and “maybe wait until next Christmas… or birthday!” What a blessing to hear straight from the “mouths of babes” the Lord’s true message of faith and trust during this time of the year.

Our hero talks this week have also stirred the hearts of our courageous heroes. They were challenged with the task of not just telling others about Jesus, but also helping others build a relationship with Jesus. They identified the difference between knowing about Jesus and really knowing Jesus. Our missionary from Egypt, Mr. Yeo, shared about growing up serving with his family, planting churches and building schools for people who do not know Jesus. He described making friends and sharing the love of Jesus and not just telling them about Jesus. And the best way to share the love of Jesus is by helping others, just like St. Nicholas did, as Mrs. Amash told the story of young Nicholas secretly helping a family in need. So our heroes are devising their own “secret” ways of blessing others and giving generously to their neighbors, friends, and families. One hero started telling friends not to thank her for helping them, instead to “Thank God!”

Christmas Around The World

What school takes it’s students on an adventure around the world? Journey Academy! This week, our young heroes learned how other countries celebrate the birth of Jesus in their cultures. Heroes did this by splitting into small groups and researching the languages, traditions, clothing, and food that these countries use to celebrate. On Tuesday, we then took a field trip to Frederick Meijer Gardens where our heroes were able to see a Christmas Tree Exhibit with decorations from multiple countries.

After learning about Christmas traditions around the world, our heroes created a script to a play, where they will share their knowledge and celebrate the true meaning of Christmas at our Final Exhibition. They are VERY excited to share this with you!!

A few milestones our heroes will tackle this quest include:

  • Selecting a country they wish to research (by November 27th)
  • Researching their country and traditions used to celebrate Christmas (by November 29th), including:
    • A dish that is popular (and will be prepared for the Exhibition)
    • How that particular country’s traditions link to faith
    • The country’s flag
  • Memorizing the lyrics to all songs (by December 1st)
  • Writing  a script for the country presentation within the play (by December 4th)
  • Having prepared all costumes and props (by December 8th)


In addition to learning about cultures and performing through this quest, our heroes will also support a refugee family through Bethany Christian services. We will be collecting gift  cards as admission to the play, which will be presented to a refugee family (1 for each Journey Academy studio).

In addition to beginning a new quest and traveling to Frederick Meijer Gardens, our heroes have had a full week. A few other events this week included:

  • EMS heroes pooled their hero bucks (300 total) from last session together to buy an outdoor pizza party on Friday!
  • ES heroes began a new Writer’s Workshop this week! They are now rewriting the original story of Jesus’ birth from a different perspective.
  • Each hero has now set new session goals they wish to accomplish by our next Exhibition!


Discussion Questions This Week Included:

  • Last session, you mastered an incredibly challenging stretch goal, held an amazing exhibition, and pushed yourself to the limit. How will you continue to challenge yourself this session?
  • As we begin our Christmas Around The World Quest, what most excites you?
    • Researching different cultures
    • Performing
    • Designing props and costumes
  • Should religion be taught in public schools?
  • Is it better to be cautious or to take risks?
  • Would you rather have $1000 to spend on yourself, or $1000 to spend on someone else?

Bringing Joy to Our World

Our heroes are on a mission to bring joy to the world. In everything they do in our studio, their joy overflows to others, as they worship the Lord with Christmas carols, open their Bibles to Luke 1, persevere in developing their core skills, research during project time, all the way to the end of the day during close.

Our heroes’ journey during this quest takes us on the mission field. We are going around the world not only to celebrate Christmas but most importantly to fulfill our mission to share Jesus with the world. We revisit the meaning of JOY to the world as we made our commitments at the beginning of the school year; J for Jesus, O for others, and Y for you. So we hold on to our promises to put Jesus first and tell others about the true meaning of Christmas through loving others and honoring our Father in all that we do.

And so we continue our Hero’s journey during this session as missionaries. Each morning, we are inspired to learn about how kids around the world spread the gospel. Our heroes are coming up with their own ways to share the gospel. One hero said she cooks food for her mom to share the love of Jesus. Another hero wanted to collect coins in a jar to help missionaries in Asia. Many heroes agreed that singing Christmas carols tell others about Jesus.

Only within the first week of our Christmas around the world quest, our motivated heroes have learned so much about their world. They researched about Christmas traditions all around the world. They chose the countries they would like to visit, got their Chromebooks out and discovered the interesting ways others celebrate Christmas. They compared and contrasted the various Christmas traditions in their countries and their own Christmas traditions. And on their own, our heroes demonstrated their resourcefulness in doing their research by reading articles, scanning through images, or watching videos. One hero could be heard having a nice conversation with Google as he asks “How do they celebrate Christmas in Hawaii?” and then Google answers his question with facts about Christmas traditions in Hawaii, followed by giggles all around the studio as they hear about Santa on a canoe pulled by dolphins! Our heroes can also be heard greeting one another Merry Christmas in other languages of their choice. As they color the flags from different countries, they learn how people say Merry Christmas from that country. Then they eagerly go around the studio greeting one another in many different languages.


Christmas Around the World Quest

Quest Requirements

Writer’s workshop Geography Due Date

History of Christmas symbols

Research Christmas traditions

Flags around the world



North America
South America
Dec 1
Christmas play scripts, songs, costumes, and props Christmas story



Dec 8

Christmas play

Traditional Christmas recipe

Merry Christmas in other languages

Christmas traditions book Africa

Dec 15


Hero Talks

Sergio and family

Madrid, Spain

December 1

Purun Yeo

Missionary from Egypt

December 5

Amy Amash

St. Nicholas Day

December 6

Christian Hawkins

Bethany Refugees

December 12

Field trip

Meijer gardens

December 28


Joy to Our World

Christmas play

December 14

Our field trip to Meijer Gardens really opened up a whole new world for our heroes. They distinctly recall and identify various traditions from specific countries just from the symbols they saw in each tree. As we look back to our field trip by looking at our pictures of the many Christmas trees in Meijer Gardens, our heroes can immediately name the countries or people represented in each tree, such as Germany with the hidden pickle, Mexico with pinatas, the Native Americans with dreamcatchers, and even Ukraine with the spider webs. As we continue traveling to all the continents during our quest, the Christmas trees from Meijer Gardens help our heroes recall and make connections with people around the world and their unique and interesting Christmas traditions.

Despite all the hustle and bustle of the beginning of this Christmas season, our heroes need not be reminded of the true meaning of Christmas. There was no confusion or any debate about what all the celebrations are all about. Getting presents under the tree did not have any part in our discussions about Christmas. Our heroes were unanimous about what is truly important: For unto us, a child is born…Jesus! And we can’t wait to share this with all the world! At the end of each discussion, our heroes get in a group huddle to encourage and cheer for each other to “GO CHANGE THE WORLD!”



Many thanks to our special guests this week who inspired our learning: Mrs. Amash, who read books we love for story time; Sergio and family, for our Hero talk from Madrid, Spain, who shared about their Christmas traditions; Wimee, who sparked our creativity for writer’s workshop; and Mrs. Haas, who helped us learn to sing Silent Night in German.

What a joy it was for our heroes to share their learning with their families for the portfolio reviews. They were so excited to show off all their hard work to mommies and daddies. And what a blessing to witness all the love our families have poured out on our heroes and helping them find their calling. As our heroes made their own videos to express their gratitude, one hero expressed her heartfelt gratitude saying, “ Journey Academy is my favorite school. Thank you for putting me in this school!”