Contests & Competitions for Elementary Kids 2018

I'd like to offer ALL of these in the elementary buildings where I teach. Every. single. one. Overzealous yes, but each worthy of consideration. Students are motivated to work and create by so many different factors (Should I get into it? Maslow, Gardner, Tomlinson... I'll stop there) and in my teaching experience one awesome factor for motivating young learners is C O M P E T I T I O N. 

Competitions for kids seem to come with a large amount of judgement. From the "Everyone gets a trophy" mentality, to "My child will be forever crushed if he doesn't win!" to "Who's to say that piece of work is better than my child's?" I think we've heard all of the gripes.

The real goal with healthy competition is to promote a growth mindset for children. You've studied for that challenge, you've worked to use your creativity to make something beautiful, you've taken the time to imagine and describe your vision of the future, and you've learned something new. Whether or not it is recognized, the motivating part of participating in a contest or competition is how it pushes the participant to grow and to put themselves out there. Just like writing a blog, it's much easier to keep it all in your head then to push yourself, challenge yourself, and know there will be judgements made around you. 

While we can omit the F-word with our kids, I believe Elizabeth Gilbert said it best in Big Magic

Recognizing that people's reactions don't belong to you is the only sane way to create. If people enjoy what you've created, terrific. If people ignore what you've created, too bad. If people misunderstand what you've created, don't sweat it. And what if people absolutely hate what you've created? What if people attack you with savage vitriol, and insult your intelligence, and malign your motives, and drag your good name through the mud? Just smile sweetly and suggest - as politely as you possibly can - that they go make their own fucking art. Then stubbornly continue making yours.” 

Math contests, art competitions, spelling bees, science bowls, designing the future, battling robots. Giving your students these awesome opportunities to create, to share their thinking and talent with the world, and to experience growth in a way that isn't offered in the daily classroom routine can be highly motivating.  Check out our ULTIMATE LIST OF CONTESTS AND COMPETITIONS FOR ELEMENTARY KIDS 2018!  Enjoy the many possibilities for the children in your class or your home to grow!