Entomology and Passion Project Exhibition

Challenges were completed, habitats were created, jobs were assigned, passions were pursued, and Thursday was the day the heroes pulled it all together for the exhibition. Seeing the heroes light up with excitement to answer questions for entomology and their passion  was a testament to who they are as lifelong learners. They are an inspiration to those around them! Each hero persevered, overcame obstacles, and felt a great sense of accomplishment for all they did over the past six weeks.

Exhibition Day!

Friday, Reflection Day, was filled with many highlights! For reflections, the heroes honestly completed peer reviews, personal reviews, and leadership reviews. There were two separate celebrations for achievements. First, each hero was given their total amount of hero bucks for this session, as well as the order for shopping at the store thanks to the efforts of the Hero Bucks Champions. Second, the heroes took ownership of their badge frames at our first-ever Badge Ceremony. One at a time, a hero was recognized for their accomplishments during this session by receiving a Writer’s Workshop Autobiography Badge, Entomology Badge, and/or Passion Project Badge. It was a beautiful moment we look forward to implementing on Reflection Day.

Lastly, it couldn’t have been better timing to have almost all the chrysalids transform into butterflies on Friday. At the end of the day, the entomology groups took out the butterfly habitats to release their butterflies. What a beautiful way to end this session!

Releasing the butterflies!

Have You Asked Your Hero:

  1. What is a 360 Review?
  2. What is the purpose of reflection day?
  3. What challenge they overcame during this session?
  4. What their biggest accomplishment was this session?

Trusting the Heroes



The Early Learners’ Paleontology quest and exhibition showed strong evidence that the heroes are so much more capable than what we can ever imagine. Choosing this quest on their own gave them the motivation to learn effectively in many different ways during the session. They truly immersed themselves in Paleontology, stepping into the shoes of different Paleontologists we have learned about in our research. They showed tenacity and eagerness to discover new knowledge about the dinosaurs that drew their passions out. One hero, who from the very start did not waver in interest from one dinosaur to another, showed dedication in learning about a group of prehistoric creatures who could fly like birds. She was enamored of her discovery that these creatures were not dinosaurs at all and was determined to learn even more. Another hero was also filled with confidence in defending her newly discovered dinosaur, despite many objections that it did not exist. And the heroes who chose to be paleontologists could not wait to share all the facts they have learned from reading countless books and online research. Giving the heroes choices in their learning empowered them to achieve high standards of excellence.

The heroes themselves set these high standards for their quest. Their exhibition proved that being in control of their learning process allows them to reach these standards free from expectations and limitations imposed upon them. Their choice of roles during the exhibition, either as a Paleontologist or a prehistoric creature, allowed them to independently learn about their role. Their competence in their learning paved the way to confidently come up with creative ideas for the exhibition, which led them to decide on the idea of taking their families on an outdoor adventure along the nature trails that they so enjoyed exploring throughout the quest. Each hero chose the spots for their dinosaurs based on what they have learned about the creatures’ habitats and behaviors. They even insisted that they could build their own dinosaur costumes, which they did by ingeniously using cardboard boxes to make their creatures’ significant body parts. And the heroes who chose to be Paleontologists to guide everyone through the expedition were very assertive that they are up to the task. The Paleontology exhibition proved that the heroes could be truly be trusted to take control of their own learning.

As the heroes reflected on the past session during group discussion, they were asked to rate the quest on a scale of 1 to 10, with regards to how fun the challenges were and how important the challenges were to them. All the heroes vigorously waved all ten fingers in the air for both questions and some even raised their feet up in the air to count their toes too! Many heroes shared that they felt that the quest was important because they learned many new things they did not know before the quest, not only about dinosaurs but also about other prehistoric life, just like real Paleontologists. They also completed individual surveys to rate aspects of the quest, giving it 5 stars for the best and 1 star for the least. Click here to view the survey results. Many heroes said they liked filling out the survey because they felt like their opinion mattered and their feedback was valuable.

If you were a dinosaur, which body part would you use

to defend yourself from predators?



I have wings that pop out when I need them, then hide them under my arm. My wings are so strong they could blow a T Rex all the way to the volcano. I also have spikes that have poison inside.



I have spikes on my tail and a shield on my elbow and knees that spray poison.



I have spikes all over my tail and I swing it around.



My Shield pops out of my back.



I have wings that help me run fast. I have big spikes I could lay on. I have long legs. I have sharp teeth. I appear cute at first then transform into a very scary dinosaur.


Tyrannosaurus Rex

My sharp teeth and some spit comes out of my mouth.



I have spikes all over my body and a shell covering my back like a turtle. And I swing my club tail back and forth.



Sharp plates on my lips, arms, back, and stomach protect me.


Simon-tyrannosaurus Rex

I spit out poison so strong it makes trees fall over.

Ever since their Marine Biology quest, the heroes continue to care for the environment as they run to pick up all the litter they find along our nature path. Their little hearts break each time they see litter, eagerly racing each other to pick them up, with such loving concern for God’s creation.

The heroes set high goals for themselves as they tackle their spelling lists. They take turns working on Spelling City projected on the Apple TV, while the rest compete for their turn to go next if they correctly spell the word on the whiteboard first. With the requirement to master Fry words 1 to 100, some heroes chose to start with words 91 to 100 to challenge themselves. Another hero completed several lists in one day. They are determined to remain in their challenge zones to grow their brains.

“Meeting their brains” has helped the heroes develop strategies using metacognitive practices. Each day the heroes used playdough to add each part of the brain to their model and discussed the function of each part. And at the end of the day, they shared how they used that part of the brain. Their awareness and ability to regulate their thinking enabled them to persevere until they met their goals, despite distractions, obstacles, and struggles. Throughout the day, heroes reminded each other, “I am exercising my brain” and “my brain is growing.” Once a hero reflected on her thinking and said, “My brain says it’s too hard. But the Holy Spirit says keep going. The brain is the boss of the body, but the Holy Spirit is the boss of the brain. So I am listening to the Holy Spirit!”

After feeding their brains while staying in their challenge zones throughout the quest, the heroes enjoyed their well-deserved Challenge donut party, since they filled in all the sprinkles on their Challenge donuts. As they have insisted from the very beginning of the quest, since they have been feeding their brains, they also needed to feed their tummies with real yummy donuts!

Our Week At A Glance

Week 6: May 14-18,  2018


Picture Day








Bible verse song

Psalm 136

Colossians 2:11-12

You were raised with Jesus through your faith.

How are you growing in your faith?

Colossians 2:13

God made you alive in Christ. He forgave us all our sins.

Think of a time you asked God to forgive you. How do you know you are forgiven?

Colossians 2:14-15

Jesus disarmed the powers and authorities … triumphing over them by the cross

When did you feel triumphant?

Colossians 2:16

Do not let anyone judge you

How does it feel when someone judges you?

Colossians 2:17-18

Do not let anyone … disqualify you

What would happen to  someone who might feel “disqualified?” How would you comfort them?

Growth mindset

Read aloud

Your fantastic elastic brain

JoAnn Deak

How does learning about your brain help you learn?


Peter Reynolds

Would thinking about “-ish” help you persevere?

The invisible boy

Trudy Ludwig

Have you ever felt invisible? What did you do?

Stand tall, Molly Lou Melon

Patty Lovell

How do you react when others judge you? What would be a better way to respond? How would it help if you think first and not react to your first reaction?

Wilma Unlimited

Kathleen Krull

What do you admire most about Wilma? How does her story help you?

Writer’s workshop

Typing club

Paleontologist journals

Spelling city

Fry words 1-10

Write a letter to a dinosaur. What questions would you ask? What would you like to know?

Write a list of questions to interview a paleontologist.

Play-based MTWTh

PE Fri


Dramatic play – kitty

Superhero dramatic play

 Straw connectors

Foam noodles


Jump ropes


Rate epic books


Read aloud: How the dinosaur got to the museum

Why do we need to keep dinosaur fossils in a museum? Where else would you like to display your discoveries if you were a paleontologist?

Dino babies

What would you do if you find an injured dinosaur? Would you try to help the dinosaur even though that may be dangerous? What if it’s a baby t rex? The baby would not hurt you but what if the mommy finds you? Or would you leave to stay safe away from the dinosaurs?

Stegosaurus facts

If you were a dinosaur, how would you defend yourself from predators? Which body part would have important survival functions? Anti-predator defenses (like body size, body armor, living in groups)

How would predators survive if their prey always fights them off?

What is more important to do at the exhibition?

Showing what you learned or how you learned?

Quest Reflection

On a scale of 1 to 10, how fun were the challenges for the quest? How important were the challenges to your learning?

Project time


Prepare a skit and imagine you are paleontologists reporting on the discovery of some dinosaurs.

Photoshoot 2pm

Read aloud: Dinosaurs walked here

Trail locations

Nature trail clean up

Dinosaur Quiz 

Paleontology portal

Mystery fossils

Clay fossils

Exhibition preparations and set up

Quest portfolios

Quest Reflection videos

Google classroom

Feedback survey

Hero Feedback



Exhibitions artwork


Dinos around the globe


Musical instruments






Thinking about how we think

Planning approach to learning

Reflection and self-regulation

Evaluate where you are in your learning. How did you get to where you are in your learning? Where do you need to be in your learning? How will you get to where you need to be?

How did you persevere today? How did you meet your goals? How are you working to meet your goals?

What would you do if you see someone who felt invisible?

Goal presentations

How did you meet your goals during this session? What are you still working on? What was in your panic zone? Comfort zone? How did you move to your challenge zone?

Hero Bucks class field trip plans

Upcoming events:


May 30

Hero bucks class trip:  Catch Air

Please send the waiver forms to school before our trip. Thanks!

The Gift of Family

Today we had the incredible opportunity to grow our family at Journey Academy as we celebrated Siblings Day! Siblings were given challenges throughout the morning to earn “Sibling Day Hero Bucks.” Once all six challenges were accomplished, they had the opportunity to cash them in for a treat. The siblings might be tired after a long, exhaustive game of Forever Freeze Tag during P.E. too. We thank you, siblings, for visiting us this morning. We loved having you join the EMS studio today!  

Siblings Day silly pose!

Reading with our siblings!

The entomologist heroes continue to make daily observations of ants working together, mealworms resting on sweet potatoes or lettuce, and chrysalids beginning to wiggle. The transformation of metamorphosis taking place in the studio reminds us of 2 Corinthians 5:17 (NIV), “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” We are made new in His image!


Getting ready for butterflies!

Though the forecast on Wednesday was showing a possibility of rain for most of our trip at Blandford Nature Center, we were thankful to experience only a little bit of rain at the beginning. The heroes enjoyed getting off of the trail to search for insects under logs, on the ground, and on trees. Some of the highlights included finding what looked like small volcanoes in the meadow made by crayfish, and taking two Chinese mantis nests full of eggs back to the studio. In the next week, they should hatch.


Exploring the meadow at Blandford Nature Center!

In writer’s workshop on Wednesday, heroes read their autobiography draft to the studio. At the end of each reading the heroes gave peer edits using a “warm – cool – warm” technique (positive – critique – positive). In other news, the heroes continue to travel back in time and have entered 1600 A.D. for civilization. This week they discovered who Queen Elizabeth was, as well as learning about England’s greatest playwright, William Shakespeare.

At the beginning of the week the heroes were challenged to build an Encouragement Tower using Legos. Each time a hero wrote a character callout or say something kind about another hero, the hero that provided encouragement added a Lego to the tower. It started with nothing and grew throughout the entire week.

The EMS “Encouragement Tower!”


Have You Asked Your Hero:

  1. What is happening to the chrysalids?
  2. What a Chinese mantis nest looks like?
  3. When and where the exhibition is?
  4. How many siblings visited this morning?

Leaders of Influence

“I love Siblings Day!” says one of our heroes. The Early Learners have been so excited for this day to come. They have been planning on activities to do in their studio to welcome their siblings. They discussed their sibling’s favorite toys and games. They thought of ways to problem solve anticipating issues that may come up during their siblings’ visit. The heroes shared hopeful prayers for their siblings to have fun and enjoy their time at Journey Academy.


The success of Siblings Day rested on the Early Learners’ ability to lead their siblings from a strong set of values. The heroes modeled and demonstrated servant leadership as they influenced their younger siblings through their heartfelt service, catering to their needs, from putting away their coats and lunch bags in lockers, showing them around the studio, finding materials for them to use, giving up their choices of toys for their siblings, and even taking them to go potty. Each hero made a conscious choice to do all he/she can to make this day special for his/her sibling.

The heroes have also been checking the calendar, counting down the days to their exhibition. Their ideas for the exhibition are all falling into place, from their choice of dinosaurs to represent, ingeniously making their own cardboard dinosaur costumes, or their choice to be a paleontologist reporting their findings during the exhibitions. All of which in pursuit of sharing all they have learned during this quest as paleontologists.


Our Week At A Glance

Week 5: May 7-11,  2018






Sibling day



Bible verse song

Psalm 8

Colossians 2:5

I delight to see how disciplined you are and how firm your faith in Christ is.

What things do you do that delights, Jesus? How are you “disciplined and firm in your faith?”

Colossians 2:6

Continue to live your lives in Jesus…

Colossians 2:7

Rooted and built up in Jesus, strengthened in the faith

of Colossians 2:8

See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy

Sibling introductions

Growth mindset

Meet your brain

Brain model

Khan Academy

Brain training

Brain song

How do you exercise your brain to make it stronger? How do you use your cerebrum, the thinking part of your brain? Solving problems? Drawing pictures? Play games?

Swirl and twist snake-like shape clay to create wrinkly cerebrum.

Growing your mind

Give your friend a high-five! How else do you use your cerebellum, which controls your muscles? Running? Jumping? Dancing?

Small mass  of clay with ridges at the back of brain model


Think of a time your prefrontal cortex helped you make a good choice. How did you come up with that decision? Pros and cons? Compare and contrast?

Twist smaller snake like playdoh in front of the brain

Challenges grow your brain

Think of a time you worked hard to get better at something? What helped you the most?


Help from others

How did your hippocampus help you remember the way to your fort in the woods?

Short curved seahorse shape under cerebrum left of cerebellum

I love my sibling

How do you show you love your sibling? Why do you love your sibling?

Writer’s workshop

Typing club

paleontologist journals

Spelling city

Write a letter to a sibling. Ask questions to prepare for sibling day.

Coloring workshop


Play-based TWTh



Paper crafts

Paper sculptures

Cardboard boxes




Hula hoops

Shaving cream



Exhibition preparations

Why do we need to have an exhibition?

What do you need to prepare for the exhibition?

How will you share all you have learned during our paleontology quest?

What would you like the people in the exhibition to know about the paleontology?

Colossians 2:9-10

In Chris,t you have been brought to fullness

Project time

Prehistoric amphibians


New dinosaur discovery

Read aloud: Is it a dinosaur?


Why is it important for paleontologists to discover more dinosaurs?

Marching dinosaur

Read aloud: Dinosaur days

How big were dinosaurs

Bigger than you think

Estimation and measurement skills:  

measure out the length of a dinosaur

If dinosaurs were still alive today, what ways can we keep them safe from humans? How can we be safe from them? Should we keep some of them in a zoo or a theme park?

Triceratops facts

Real or Make-Believe

Read aloud: Ask a dinosaur

Imagine you meet a dinosaur who could communicate with humans. What would you say to it? What Would you ask?

Ask a Dinosaur Expert

Sue Hendrickson

Read aloud: Sue, the Story of the Colossal fossil

What is the most important character trait a paleontologist need to be successful?



Ned the neuron

Think of a time your amygdala help you control your emotions.

Almond shape clay at the base of the hippocampus.

Add brain stem to control other parts of the body for breathing, digesting food.

Trunk like clay under cerebellum downward



Dinosaur sculptures


Exploring time and space


Dinosaur songs


Spray painting




Imagine what would happen if you did not have your cerebrum.

How did you use your cerebellum?

Who used their prefrontal made good choices today?

What strategies have helped you when you do 3B4G?

How did your amygdala help you control your emotions today?

Happy Mother’s Day

to our

Amazing Moms!!!

What do you love most about MOM?


My mom snuggles with me!


My mom is nice to me always!


My mom gets us food!


My mom gets us what we need!


My mom gets us pedicures and manicures and then lunch!


My mom loves other people so much!


My mom is always nice!


My mom is kind and nice!


My mom plays with me!

Caterpillars, Mealworms, and Ants – Oh My!

The study is crawling with critters since the heroes created three habitats this week. There are four ant farms, four mealworm habitats, and fifty Painted Lady caterpillars awaiting a new home when the time is right. It is exciting to see the ants working together to build tunnels, mealworms awake and feeding on food, and caterpillars beginning to spin webbing within their cup. Each group has elected a daily caretaker for the ants and mealworms, and everyone has started journaling their daily observations. You will get to see these journals and habitats at the upcoming exhibition!

Caterpillars, Mealworms, and Ants – OH MY!

See if you can find all three habitats in this picture.

Today we were blessed to have another real-world expert visit the studio. Wendy Overbeek, the overseer of the Butterfly and Caterpillar Exhibit at Frederik Meijer Gardens (FMG), shared a wealth of information with the heroes. She discussed how caterpillars from all over the world get shipped to FMG, how they are cared for, and how she knows by weight and feel when a chrysalis is or is not healthy and well. She also brought up the reason why it is important to “turn” as we exit so no non-native species enter our habitat. The heroes made a connection to one of our previous discussions about the devastation stink bugs have had on our crops.

During civilization, the heroes were divided up into groups to discover more about Nicolas Copernicus, Isaac Newton, Galileo Galilei, and Johannes Kepler. They had a discussion about Galileo’s choice to obey the church and state the earth was the center of the universe? Many heroes felt he was genius for this incredible paradigm shift. This brought up another discussion that left some heroes believing paradigm shifts are more important scientific method while others debated the other way around. Which one do you believe is more important?

Have You Asked Your Hero:

  1. What habitats they created this week?
  2. About our circle prayer we did on Tuesday?
  3. How many heroes were in the studio today?
  4. About the song, Love and Faithfulness?
  5. What they are creating for their Passion Project?

Self-governing Learning Community

Simon was very convincing when he proposed that the Early Learners could run the studio on their own. And he was right! With just a little help from Middle school heroes, the Early Learners Studio ran smoothly on the day they decided to give Ms. Elsie a day off. The middle schoolers reported witnessing the heroes engage in discussions while following their rules of engagement without the need for reminders, stay on task during core skills time allowing the middle schoolers to do their work as well, and even keep track of time and stay on schedule. The heroes worked on challenging tasks that are meaningful and of high interest to them. They demonstrated their ability to lead and make decisions because they have been empowered to take on the challenge of governing themselves. They were not afraid to take risks and instead they learned to use strategies and tools to overcome challenges.

During their field trip to the Michigan State University Museum, the docent was amazed at how competent and knowledgeable the heroes were, especially with regards to the field of Paleontology. Exploring fossils throughout the museum lead the heroes to a greater understanding of Paleontology and enhanced their ability to apply what they have learned.

Our Week At A Glance

Week 4: April 30 – May 4,  2018


Outside day


Day off

MS guides



Field trip




What did it say?

What does it mean?

What do you do?

Bible verse song

John 3:16

Colossians 1:28

Jesus is the one we proclaim, admonishing and teaching everyone in all wisdom

How do you get wisdom? How do you distinguish wisdom from foolishness?

Colossians 1:29

I strenuously contend with all the energy Christ so powerfully works in me

How is Jesus working in you? If Jesus is working in you does that mean you would never make mistakes?

Colossians 2: 1-2

My goal is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love

What is your goal this week? By the end of this quest? By the end of the school year? What challenges do you have to tackle in order to reach your goals?

Colossians 2: 3

Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge

Why would God hide wisdom in Jesus? Do you agree with Paul and believe that wisdom is like treasure? Why?

Colossians 2: 4

I tell you this so that no one may deceive you by fine-sounding arguments

What do you do when someone is trying to deceive you?

Growth mindset

Brain plasticity

Neurons that fire together wire together

Setting weekly goals

Your brain is like a muscle

What work do you feel frustrated by sometimes? How might you get better at it?

The magic of mistakes

Think of a recent mistake you made. What happened? How could you learn from it? If you were working on a project and kept making mistakes, what would you do?

The incredible power of yet

What do you do if you are stuck in your work? Think of a time you were afraid to ask for help. Why did you feel afraid? Think of something you don’t know how to do yet.

The mysterious world of neurons

What can you do this week to make some new connections? Set one specific goal.

Mojo puts it all together

What feelings do you have when something is too hard? Is it okay to feel that way? What kind of attitude should we have when facing a challenge and why is that important? When something is challenging, would rather ask for help or take a break to reflect?

Writer’s workshop

paleontologist journals

Typing club

dinosaur book

Field trip



Play-based TWTh

Park course


Lego inventions

Field trip



Outside relaunch

Andy’s dinosaur adventures

Imagine you are a paleontologist and you have made many discoveries about dinosaurs. One of your discoveries was that dinosaurs are covered with scales. But when you go back in time with Andy, you find out you were wrong because they were covered with feathers. You realize you were wrong but if you tell everyone you could lose your job. What would you do?

Prehistoric fish



Meave and Louise Leak

Your mom is a paleontologist. You used to like going with her to learn more about dinosaurs. But you begin to lose interest and you would rather do something else. Would you tell your mom or would you just keep pretending you still like dinosaurs? What if she asks you to take over her work when she retires? Would you do it for her? Or would you do what you really like to do? What if that makes your mom sad?

Outside recess

Digging up a dinosaur graveyard

You discover a dinosaur graveyard no one has ever seen before. Would you tell everyone about it? What if they all want to see it and that would distract you from doing your work? What if someone else claims they found it first and they try to keep you away from the dig site? If someone offers you millions of dollars to let them take over the dig, would you take the money? Maybe you could try to find another dinosaur graveyard? Would you rather keep it all to yourself to preserve the site so that you can learn more about dinosaurs?

Quest reflections

Quest goals

Why did you go on a quest? What was your goal when you started this quest? Did you meet your goals already?

Why is this quest important to you?

How will you change the world through your quest?

Core skills

How did this quest change your thinking?  Will your thinking also change your actions?

Project time

Dinosaur name game

Dinosaur teeth

Relative speed of dinosaurs

Core skills

How big were dinosaurs

Bigger than you think

Estimation and measurement skills:  

measure out the length of a dinosaur



Famous Flora and Fauna


Dinosaur illustrations


Sidewalk chalk

Dino footprints

Walking and running

Core skills




Hero led discussions


Think of a time you helped a friend who was hurt. How did you help them feel better?

MS heroes

If you were a superhero, what would be your super power and your hero name?


How do you help Mommy and Daddy?

Think of an example where you made some new connections in your brain.


When did you work hard today?