Art, writing, math, science and environmental projects and contests for kids

Homeschoolers, like all children, can have fun participating in organized projects and contests. Some may be set up by businesses or for educational purposes, but many are organized by groups and organizations engaged in work for humanitarian, environmental and other such causes.

Aside from practicing art and writing skills, kids can also learn more about themselves as they express themselves creatively. Some projects also offer the opportunity to learn the value of engaging in a joint venture with others who share the desire to make the world a better place.

Inclusion of any business, group or organization on this list does not constitute an endorsement by OFTP. We share this information as a service to homeschoolers looking for projects and contests in which to participate.

Kids' Fish Art Contest

The Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, along with its corporate sponsors, holds an Annual Kids' Fish Art Contest. The contest is open to all students who live in Ontario and are between grades four and 12. For contest details, please visit Ontario.ca/fishartcontest.

TD Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup
Le grand nettoyage des rivages canadiens TD

The Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup is a nation-wide, non-profit event coordinated through the Vancouver Aquarium and sponsored by TD Friends of the Environment Foundation. It encourages Canadians to clean up their local waterways during the national cleanup week in September. This event is completely free for all participants, with supplies, instructions, and educational materials provided to make it as easy as possible to take children out to do a cleanup. Thousands of students across Canada participate in this annual event, designed to build spirit, leadership and raise awareness of the environment.

www.vanaqua.org/cleanup
1-877-427-2422

The Gloria Barron Prize for Young Heroes

The Gloria Barron Prize for Young Heroes honours young people ages 8 to 18 in the U.S. and Canada who have shown leadership and courage in public service to people and our planet. Each year, ten national winners each receive $2,000 to support their service work or higher education. Half of each year?s winners are chosen for their work to protect the environment. For more information and to nominate a candidate, visit www.barronprize.org

The Great EcoKids Challenge

Earth Day Canada is challenging kids across Canada to take action and contribute to a healthier environment in their schools, homes and communities.

The Great EcoKids Challenge is a nationwide contest, providing schools, extra-curricular clubs, and youth groups with an opportunity to participate in a large-scale group activity that will improve the state of their schools and communities, and ultimately, the health of the environment. Prizes in 2007 were from SONY and included a Vaio laptop computer, handycam camcorder, and digital cameral. To enter or find out more information, please visit their website: www.ecokids.ca

Flat Travelers, Toy Travelers and Geography Postcard Kids

Flat Stanley is a book written by the late Jeff Brown, about a boy who gets flattened by a bulletin board that falls on him. When he wants to visit friends far away, his parents just send him in an envelope!

This story inspired a Grade 3 teacher from Ontario to initiate the Flat Stanley Project, in which classes from different schools send each other a paper Flat Stanley and the host class records his adventures then sends him and his journal back to the original class. The Official Flat Stanley Project is a group of schoolteachers who want to provide students with another reason to write. They now have a Flat Stanley Project Facebook page as well.

Homeschoolers have their own version of the project, and a yahoogroup through which to find each other as hosts of Flat Travelers:
groups.yahoo.com/group/flat_travelers_homeschool.

Like Flat Stanley, a Flat Traveler is a laminated paper character (it could be a person but it doesn't have to be) that gets sent to other families for a "visit" and comes home with a log of their adventures, some photos of them in their travels, outings and activities, and sometimes some other souvenirs. It's a fun way to learn about geography and history, and to engage in writing and drawing, among other things. Not to mention making some friends! The Flat Travelers Homeschool group was formed to give homeschool families a group of participants to contact world wide. As a member of this group you should be prepared to host Flat Travelers from other families as well.

OFTP member Marian Buchanan has created a special kind of Flat Traveler called a "Standikin" because it can stand up and yet still fold to travel in an envelope. You can download a colour-and-cut Standikin design at her website for kids' activities, Kids and Caboodles. It's an unusual-looking traveler -- perhaps an alien or a magical creature? (Your kids get to decide.)

One Canadian homelearner did something similar with a non-flat traveler--his stuffie toy dog Jake. Unfortunately, the website chronicling Jake's Big Adventure is no longer online. (Let us know if you decide to do the same thing, and we'll put your link here.)

Another way to network and learn about other places around the world is through postcards. Geography Postcard Kids Project was started to help homelearning children enhance their geographic studies, even some history, through exchanging postcards from where they live with other postcard kids in other, sometimes very faraway places.
groups.yahoo.com/group/postcardkids

Write Across Ontario

International Festival of Authors' touring programme, IFOA Ontario, presents Write Across Ontario, a creative writing competition for middle grade and high school students across the province. The competition is generously supported by Open Book: Ontario. Students in grades 5 to 12 will write a story using the story-starter provided for their age group by one of four well-known authors. The story-starter is used as a place for students to begin their story, but where the story goes from there is in the hands of each individual.

Stories should be between 250-500 words, not including the story-starter. One submission per student is accepted during the submission period. Entries are judged by IFOA in conjunction with Open Book: Ontario. One winner is chosen from each age group for a total of four (4) winners who each receive $500 and the opportunity to have their work published online in the Open Book Magazine.

Complete rules, submission requirements and prizing info can be found on litontour.com

About Open Book: Ontario

Open Book: Ontario celebrates Ontario's vibrant literary scene. Open Book is committed to showcasing the outstanding range and quality of contemporary Canadian writing in Ontario. Through features and profiles, Open Book invites you to get to know the places and people connected to reading and writing in the province. For more information, visit openbookontario.com.

About IFOA Ontario

IFOA's touring programme, IFOA Ontario, partners with libraries, bookstores, universities and community organizations to present the best writers of contemporary literature across the province. Events include readings, interviews, lectures, round table discussions and public book signings.

MEDIA CONTACTS:

Brenna Baggs: bbaggs@ifoa.org or 416-973-4395
Maeve O'Regan: moregan@ifoa.org or 416-973-5836