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The Teaching Home
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For 28 Years The Teaching Home Has Been Providing Families
Information, Inspiration, and Encouragement from a Distinctively Christian Perspective.
Cindy Short and Sue Welch, Co-Editors

60 National Contests

The list of national contests below is not exhaustive, but does include major, established contests in many interest areas.


We have not noted the deadlines because some are rather complicated with local, regional, and national competitions.

These are yearly contests.  If a deadline has just been passed, there will be another one next year.  You can use the time until the next deadline to research and decide what contests you want to enter and start preparing ahead of time.  You could even do a sample entry for practice.

Individual or Team Entries

Some of these contests can be entered by either an individual or a team.

You may want to take advantage of the cooperation provided by a team effort – either within your own family or with friends.

Key to Listings

In the parenthesis after the name of the contest, I = Individual Entry; T = Team Entry; followed by grade levels.

Language Arts

 •  Book It! Reading Incentive Program (I, Preschool-6). Info.

 •  Scholastic Kids Are Authors Competition (T, K-8). Info.
 •  National Council of Teachers of English (I, 8 & 11). Info.
 •  Patriot's Pen Youth Essay Contest (I, 6-8) Theme "When is the Right Time to Honor Our Military Heroes?". Info.
 •  Civil Rights Defense Fund Writing Contests (I, K-12). Info.
 •  The Laws of Life Essay Contest. Info.
 •  Sons of the American Revolution's George S. & Stella M. Knight Essay Contest (I, 10-12). Info.
 •  The Grannie Annie (I, 4-8). Info.
 •  NRA Youth Essay Contest (I, K-12). Info.
 •  Being an American Essay Contest (I, 9-12). Info.
 •  Reconnecting the Circle's Essay Contest (I, 9-12). Info.

 •  Weekly Reader's Student Publishing Contest (I, 3-12). Info.
 •  National Scholastic Press. Info.
 •  IWPA High School Journalism Contest (I, 9-12). Info.

Spelling and Handwriting
 •  Scripps National Spelling Bee (I, -8). Info.
 •  National Handwriting Contest (I, 1-8). Info.

Foreign Languages
 •  National French Contest (I, 1-12). Info.

Science and Technology

 •  Siemens Westinghouse Competition in Math, Science, and Technology (I or T, 9-12). Info.

 •  Math Olympiads (I, 4-8). Info.
 •  Mathcounts (I or T, 6-8). Info.
 •  The Mathematical Association of America's American Mathematics Contests (I, 7-12). Info.
 •  American Regions Math League (T, 9-12). Info.
 •  The Art of Problem Solving Foundation USA Mathematical Talent Search. Info.

Science & Technology
 •  Invent America! (I, K-8). Info.
 •  Science Olympiad (T, K-12). Info.
 •  Team America Rocketry Challenge (T, 7-12). Info.
 •  West Point Bridge Design Contest (I/T, 7-12). Info.
 •  U.S.A. Biology Olympiad (I, 9-12). Info.
 •  Intel Science Talent Search (I, 12). Info.
 •  Discovery Channel Young Scientist Challenge (I, 5-8). Info.
 •  Technology Education for Today's Youth. Info.
 •  Christopher Columbus Awards (T, 6-8). Info.
 •  Junior Engineering Technical Society TEAMS & NEDC Contests (T, 9-12). Info.
 •  National Engineers Week Foundation Future City Competition (T, 7-8). Info.
 •  Stockholm Junior Water Prize (I/T, 9-12). Info.

Computer, Vocational
 •  USA Computing Olympiad (I, 7-12). Info.
 •  Think Quest Internet Challenge (T, ages 9-19). Info.
 •  Computer Science Contest (I/T, 7-12). Info.
 •  The Skills USA Championships Career and technical skills; 77 separate events. Info.

History & Geography

 •  National History Day Contest (I/T, 6-12) Exhibit, documentary, paper, or performance. Info.
 •  National Geography Bee (I, 4-8). Info.

The Arts

 •  National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts (9-12) Identifies artists in the performing, literary, and visual arts. Info.

Art & Writing
 •  The Scholastic Art & Writing Awards (I, 7-12). Info.
 •  National Kids-in-Print Book Contest (I, ages 6-19). Info.

Art and Crafts
 •  The Wildlife Forever State-Fish Art Contest (I, 4-12). Info.
 •  Arbor Day Poster Contest (I, 5). Info.
 •  Make It with Wool Contest encourages creativity in sewing, knitting, and crocheting. (I, all ages). Info.
 •  NRA Youth Wildlife Art Contest (I, 1-12). Info.
 •  U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service's Junior Duck Stamp Contest (I, K-12). Info.

 •  Music Teachers National Association Student Competitions. Info.

Filmmaking and TV
 •  Vision Forum's San Antonio Independent Christian Film Festival. Info.

Speech & Debate

 •  The National Christian Forensics and Communications Association Home school students age 12-18. Formal speech and debate. Info.
 •  National Forensic League Speech Tournament and Student Congress. Info.
 •  The American Legion's National High School Oratorical Contest (I, 9-12) To develop a deeper knowledge and appreciation of the Constitution of the United States. Info.
 •  Sons of the American Revolution's Joseph S. Rumbaugh Historical Oration Contest (I, 9-12). Info.
 •  Veterans of Foreign Wars' Voice of Democracy (I, 9-12) Audio essay, "How I Demonstrate My Freedom." Info.
 •  National High School Mock Trial Championship (T, 9-12). Info.
 •  National Management Association's American Enterprise Speech Contest (I, 9-12). Info.


10 Academic Areas
 •  United States Academic Decathlon (T, 9-12). Info.

 •  U.S. Chess Federation (I, K-12). Info.

 •  National Junior Horticultural Association Contests (I/T) Eighteen contests. Info.

Community Service
 •  The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards (I, 5-12). Info.

Many of the contests listed above have been reviewed and recommended by the National Association of Secondary School Principals.

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Sunnyside Up

Paw Print Identification

My parents occasionally mail vacation mementos to our children.  After a trip to Canada, they sent 4-year-old Patton a T-shirt printed with animal tracks and their identifications.  We spent much of the afternoon studying the prints.

At bath time that evening, I lifted Patton out of the tub and onto a fresh, dry bath mat.  After I had toweled him dry, he stepped off the bath mat.  Looking down, he shouted, "Look, Mommy!  My paw prints!"

Submitted by Judi N., Texas.

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Because we have been separated from God by sin, Jesus Christ died in our place, then rose to life again. If we trust Him as our Savior and Lord, He will forgive our sin and give us eternal life.

"For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life."  (John 3:16)

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Copyright 2009 The Teaching Home


Use the Content of This Newsletter
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In This Issue

How To Make Contests
   a Learning Experience

   •  Benefits of Participating in a Competition
   •  The Ins and Outs of a Competition
   •  Integrating Contests into Your Curriculum
   •  Updated List of More Than 55 National Contests


   •  List of 60 National Contests

Last Issue

   •  Rejuvenate Your Home School in Newsletter #233

Upcoming Issues

   •  Internet Safety & Internet Use

Recommended Resources

   •  FACE: Teach Reading Skills Using the Bible
   •  Birch Court Books: Great Science Adventures Series
   •  Oxford Tutorial Service: High School College Prep
   •  Beautiful Feet Books: The Landmark Collection


In this issue we talk about competition.  This is an issue that requires a delicate balance in our own lives and our children's.

On the one hand, if we look at someone else and think that they are doing better than we are, we could become discouraged.

On the other hand, we could be challenged and encouraged by another's good example when we see what might be possible in our own lives.

May the Lord richly bless your family for His glory.

The Pat Welch Family, Publishers
Pat, Sue, Heather, Holly, and Brian

The Teaching Home is a home-school, family-run business operated in our home since 1980.

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Student Handbook walks student through studying lives of Biblical characters and their walk with God while developing vocabulary, composition, reading, and reasoning skills.

Teacher Planner CD guides the teacher in leading a class that integrates reading and Bible.

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    Benefits of Participating
    in a Competition

1.  Motivation

One of the best ways for children to learn is to actively participate in something they care about.  Contests are great learning motivators.

2.  Knowledge and Skills

A competition can provide a practical learning experience which results in expanded academic knowledge and improved skills.

3.  Character

The character qualities of persistence and diligence are called for in working on a long-range goal such as some contests require.

4.  Direction and Confidence

Entering contests can help children uncover lifelong interests, gain a sense of responsibility, learn to think for themselves, and ask questions – all of which can boost their confidence.

5.  Practical Life Skills

Children also develop everyday skills such as how to work with others, fill out applications, follow guidelines, keep records, meet deadlines, and organize their work.

6.  Rewards

A contest implies rewards.  Besides the intangible rewards of accomplishment and recognition, prizes are offered which are sometimes quite substantial or are in the form of a scholarship.  Expense-free travel to a national event might also be included.

Great Science Adventures Series
Makes Learning Relevant and Exciting!

     Unique format contains basic content, activities, and creative illustrations for grades K-8.  Perfect for multilevel teaching.
Read descriptions and order.

Topics of these 9 books are:
1. Plants
2. Tools and Technology
3. Space
4. Insects and Arachnids
5. Light and Sound
6. Earth's Landforms and Surface Features
7. Human Body and Senses
8. The Ocean
9. Atoms, Molecules, and Matter

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    The Ins and Outs
    of a Competition

1.  Explain Competition

Teach your child about competition and how it can spur one on to greater accomplishments.  (See 1 Corinthians 9:24-27; Philippians 3:14; 2 Timothy 4:7-8.)

Whether or not your child wins a prize, the contest can be used to teach him about being a good sport by handling success modestly and disappointment graciously.

2.  Prize or Participation

Even if your child doesn't win a prize, taking part in a contest can be a positive experience.  You can request participation certificates from the contest sponsor ahead of time or create certificates yourself.

3.  Be a Good Example

People, and the press, will often judge the home-school community by the actions of home-school students in the spotlight of a national contest.

We should teach our children godly principles and how to be good examples both as Christians and as home schoolers.

Many home-school students have won national contests, thereby lending credibility to home education.

4.  Observe the Rules

It takes careful study to understand all the rules of some contests.  If you have questions, be sure to contact the contest administrator.

Tip: Check out last year's winning entries (you can often find these on the contest's website) to get an idea of what the judges are looking for.

5.  Deadlines

You may have several deadlines to meet, the first being your application.

Organize and plan the work on your contest by breaking the whole into smaller goals and setting your own deadlines for each.

Be sure to allow enough time to do your best on the contest and to realize all the benefits possible.

6.  Costs

Some contests require an entry fee, and some contests might necessitate other expenditures that you should be aware of before you begin.

Check to see if you need to pay for your own travel to a national event.

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    Integrating Contests
    into Your Curriculum

1.  Choose a contest carefully.

You may want to choose a contest with a certain learning goal in mind. For example, you may want to use an essay contest to strengthen writing and reading skills as well as to expand knowledge of the assigned topic.

Ask your children what topics they would be interested in pursuing.

The sponsor or purpose of the contest might affect your decision. If you do not believe the United States should share its authority with the United Nations, then you would probably not want to write an essay on the topic. (We didn't list that contest.)

2.  Prepare.

For a contest to work successfully, you should know exactly what is needed -- skills, materials, entry fees, contest rules, etc.

You, as the parent, might want to try the contest yourself (e.g., write a sample essay on the topic) for full understanding of what's involved.

3.  Learn about the history or background
      of the contest subject.

This will not only give your children a valuable history lesson, but it will also help them gain a greater insight into their contest theme or subject.

Read books and magazines or listen to music. For example, if your children are entering a poetry contest, have them read different kinds of poetry.

4.  Take field trips.

Use any opportunities available locally which relate to your contest. For example, if your children are participating in an environmental protection program, arrange a trip to a nature reserve.

5.  Broaden specific contest activity
      to create a unit study.

If your children are entering a writing contest, have them create artwork or crafts that relate to their subject; if they enter an art competition, have them write an essay about the theme.

6.  Maintain a resource-filled environment.

Provide access to dictionaries, atlases, almanacs, and an encyclopedia.

As well as traditional resources, teach your children how to safely (under your supervision) and efficiently use the internet for research.

7.  Information Packs.

You might want to start collecting information on a few topics of interest to your children. Label an extra large envelope for each topic and fill it with clippings, pictures, articles, statistics, notes, etc., on that topic.

These information packs will be a great resource for your children during contest time.

Many contests will provide educational information as well as how to comply with the contest rules.

8.  Have your children maintain portfolios.

Include drafts and final copies of writing or sketches, and photos of artwork or projects. These records are great for showing the improvement in students' abilities as well as the work that was done.

9.  Furnish a Biblical perspective.

Many contests will be secular in nature. You can furnish a spiritual dimension by using a Bible concordance, dictionary, or encyclopedia to study what the Bible says about your subject.

Acknowledgment: Some of these ideas were suggested by Laurie Bluedorn of Trivium Pursuit.

The Landmark Collection –
Each book brings to life a great event
or personality in our nation's past.

     Your children will experience history through the stories of Amelia Earhart, the Sager children, the Yukon Gold Rush, the heroes of World War I and II, and more.

     This collection includes all the re-issued Landmark titles currently available along with several "Landmark- like" titles originally published 40-50 years ago!

     A "must have" for any library!  Buy this set of 26 books at the discounted price of $162.95 and save $17.

Beautiful Feet Books
Publishers of Quality Children's Literature Since 1984 / 800.889.1978

    Local and State Contests

Support Group Science Fairs

Your support group may put on a science fair, or you might volunteer to help do one.

For ideas and information, read articles online at Home Science Tools website.

 •   "Designing a Science Fair Project"
 •   "Science Fairs & The Scientific Method"

Read an article about the benefits of science fairs (including a basic outline for a project), as well as practical tips on setting up a science fair on the BJU Press website.

County or State Fairs

Consider entering one or more of the many categories in your county or state fair.

Contact your county Cooperative Extension System for information on fairs in your state, or see a list of state fairs and city and county fairs.

See our list National Contests in the sidebar at the left.

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