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 let homeschoolers know some of what's available when they're looking for projects and contests in which to participate.
Canada-Wide Science Fair
Held every year since 1962, CWSF is a STEM competition and exhibit for grades 7 to 12, attended by over 10,000 visitors to the STEM Expo. In addition to participating in scientific, social, and cultural activities, 500 finalists compete for medals, cash prizes, scholarships, and exclusive science opportunities.
Peterborough Regional Science Fair
Has been going for over 50 years. Projects require all aspects of learning: inquiry, experimental design and execution, literacy, math, art (to create the poster boards). The show-and-tell science competition is held annually at Trent University. Hundreds of students showcase their experiments and compete for awards totalling $15 000, including the opportunity to compete at the Canada-Wide Science Fair (see above listing) and beyond.
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 https://www.ontario.ca/page/kids-fish-art-contest
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.
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 https://barronprize.org/
EcoKids Contests & Newsletter
Earth Day Canada is challenging kids across Canada to take action and contribute to a healthier environment in their schools, homes and communities.
U of T's Department of Mathematics offers a number of competitions aimed at a range of students in the elementary and secondary grades.
Flat Travellers and Toy Travellers
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 Facebook page as well.
Homeschoolers used to have their own version of the project, called Flat Travelers. 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!
There used to be a yahoogroup through which to find each other as hosts of Flat Travelers, and then a Facebook group. We can't locate them anymore, but we'll update this page if we find anything similar again. In the meantime, OFTP members can make arrangements on the OFTP Members' forums and OFTP Members' FB group for doing their own version of the project together.
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 traveller -- perhaps an alien or a magical creature? (Your kids get to decide.)
One Canadian homelearner did something similar with a non-flat traveller--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.)