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The Teaching Home E-Mail Newsletter #51
Information, Inspiration, and Encouragement
October 3, 2003 / Cindy Short and Sue Welch, editors
Table of Contents
How To Make National Contests a Learning Experience
Benefits of Participating in a Competition
The Ins and Outs of a Competition
Integrating Contests into a Curriculum
How Great Thou Art Complete Art Program
Beyond Phonics Reading and Spelling
Vintage Needleworks Family Heirlooms
Doorposts "A Night of Reformation"
Sunny Side Up: Humorous Anecdote
In this issue we talk about competition. This can be a delicate
balance in our own lives.
On one hand, if we look at someone else and think that they
(apparently) have it all together and we don't, we can become
On the other hand, we can be challenged and encouraged by
another's example of what might be possible in our own lives.
Let us consider how to stimulate one another
to love and good deeds,
not forsaking our own assembling together,
as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another;
and all the more as you see the day drawing near.
Pat, Sue, Heather, Holly, and Brian Welch
The Teaching Home is a 23-year-old, home-school family business.
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How To Make National Contests
a Learning Experience
Benefits of Participating in a Competition
One of the best ways for children to learn is to actively
participate in something they care about. Contests are great
2. Knowledge & Skills
A competition can provide a practical learning experience
which results in expanded academic knowledge and improved skills.
The character qualities of persistence and diligence are
called for in working on a long-range goal such as some contests
4. Direction & 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
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.
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.
Please Share Your Experience with Us
If your child has participated in a competition, we would
love to hear from you and share your experience with our readers.
Send your reply by e-mail and include all or some of the
__ Name of Contest
__ Your child's age
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The Ins and Outs of a Competition
1. Explain Competition
There has been a movement in the public schools to eliminate
all competition and even grades so that everyone feels good, but
there are legitimate ways to use 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; II 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
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
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.
You may have several deadlines to meet, the first being your
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.
Some contests require an entry fee, and some contests might
necessitate other expenditures that you should be aware of up
Check to see if you need to pay for your own travel to a
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Integrating Contests into a 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 like to pursue.
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
For a contest to work successfully, you should know exactly
what is needed--skills, materials, entry fees, contest rules,
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 children a valuable history lesson,
but 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
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
6. Maintain a resource-filled environment.
Provide access to dictionaries, atlases, almanacs, and
Teach children how to safely and efficiently use the
internet as well as traditional resources.
7. Information Packs.
These will be a great resource for your children during
contest time. Each pack (a big envelope can be used) should be
labeled with a topic and contain clippings, pictures, articles,
statistics, notes, etc., on that topic.
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 ideas were suggested by Laurie
Bluedorn of Trivium Pursuit. http://www.triviumpursuit.com
Phonics Stories Accelerate or Remediate
Spelling and Advanced Reading
"Mother told me not to waste paste or taste
the pastry while she basted the turkey..."
"Usually, casual exposure to TV may bring a
measure of pleasure, but visual leisure can also
destroy spiritual composure..."
http://www.beyondphonics.com Entire program $69.95
National Contests: Save This List!
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.
Use the time 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.
2. 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
3. Local Science Fairs
Don't forget your support group's science fair. Resource:
Scripps Howard National Spelling Bee (I, -8)
Spelling, vocabularies, and English usage.
Henty Essay Contest (I)
Topic: "What Christians Can Learn from the Writings of G.A.
Henty about the True Meaning of Manhood."
Read essays from last year's contest at:
Book It! Reading Incentive Program (I, -8)
2003 National Handwriting Contest (I, 1-5)
National French Contest (I, 1-12)
Patriot's Pen Youth Essay Contest (I, 7-8)
Freedom's Answer (I/T, 9-12)
"If I Were President . . . " Competition
IWPA High School Journalism Contest (I, 9-12)
The Readers Digest National Word Power Challenge (I, 4-8)
Science & Technology
Invent America! (I, K-8)
Science Olympiad (I/T, K-12)
Craftsman Young Inventors. Design a tool. (I, 2-8)
Team America Rocketry Challenge (T, 7-12)
Hydro Power Contest (I/T, 9+)
2003 National High School Student Solar Design Contest (I, 9-12)
Aviation and Aeronautic Student Competitions
20 contests in various subject and skill areas.
West Point Bridge Design Contest (I/T, 7-12)
U.S.A. Biology Olympiad (I, 9-12)
Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (I, 12)
Art, Crafts, Music
Make It Yourself with Wool Contest! (I, all ages)
Encourages creativity in sewing, knitting, and crocheting.
American Morgan Horse Association Contests (I, all ages)
Art and photo.
Arbor Day Poster Contest (I, 5)
The National Rifle Association Youth Wildlife Art Contest (I, 1-12)
Music Teachers National Association Student Competitions
Melody Quest. Composition (I, all ages)
National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts (I, 12)
The National Association for Music Education
Math Olympiads (I, 4-8)
Math League's Homeschool Contests (I, 4-12)
Mathcounts (I, 7-8)
American Mathematics Contests
History & Geography
National History Day Contest (I/T, 6-12)
Exhibit, documentary, paper, or performance.
National Geography Bee (I, 4-8)
The "Biggest Vegetable" Gardening Contest
National Junior Horticultural Association Contests (I/T)
Chess & Stamp Collecting
U.S. Chess Federation (I, K-12)
Rocky Mountain Philatelic Exhibition (I, age 21 and under)
ThinkQuest Internet Challenge (T, ages 9-19)
Computer Science Contest (I/T, 7-12)
USA Computing Olympiad (I, 7-12)
The SkillsUSA Championships
Career and technical skills.
Speech & Debate
The National Christian Forensics and Communications Association
Home school students age 12-18. Formal speech and debate.
National Forensic League
Speech Tournament and Student Congress.
American Enterprise Speech Contest
List of 100+ Contests
This National Advisory List of Student Contests and Activities
has been produced by the National Association of Secondary
School Principals who have reviewed and recommended them.
Please Thank & Support Our Sponsoring Advertisers!
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Please remember those that have advertised in our
last issue (below) as well as the ones in this issue.
Craftsman/NSTA Young Inventors Awards Program
Safety Tots "What's the safest thing to do?"
Intercessors for China
Sunny Side Up:
In September my friend, a homeschooling mother of four, was
beginning to teach her 4-year-old daughter the seasons of the
year. She taught her spring, summer, fall, and winter.
Later in the day, she wanted to review with her daughter, so
she asked, "What season are we about to go into?"
Her daughter thought a moment and confidently replied, "Deer
Contributed by Judith Brown, Arkansas
You are also invited to submit your humorous anecdote.
God Loves You.
Because we were separated from God by sin, Jesus Christ died
in our place, then rose to life again. If we trust Jesus Christ
as our Savior and Lord, He will give us eternal life.
"For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that
not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of
works, that no one should boast" (Ephesians 2:8, 9).
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