Online Essay Contests Kids

I’ve been searching for writing contests for kids for my daughter and her friend. Many kids, like mine, want to write for an audience; they’d love to be published. This round-up of opportunities might just help give young writers their first chance.

Let me also suggest that you temper your kids enthusiasm with a bit of reality. It’s a tricky thing because you don’t want to be a killjoy but you also want your children to understand that good, award-winning writing is hard work and takes dedication. So even when faced with rejection, or not winning, kids need to persevere and keep writing. (Feel free to share stories authors such as Madeline L’Engle, J.K. Rowlings, and Dr. Seuss who were rejected for publishing A LOT.)

Also, it’s important that kids read through the past winners or published pieces so they get an idea of what the contest or publication is looking for.

Revision, of course, is essential. You can help by giving kids specific feedback on technique — printable revision tips here. Make sure your story has a story arc. And, proofread a million times to be sure you’re not sending in something with errors!

Check my NanNoWriMo for Kids post for more writing and revision tips.

Writing Contests for Kids

Scholastic’s Kids are Authors
ages: K – 8
Details: This unique writing contests asks kids to collaborate in groups of three or more and the entries must be between 21 – 29 pages, illustrations included. (Text + illustration = 1 page.) The deadline is March 15, 2016 and is the last time for this contest. See all the rules and info here.

PBS Kids Go! Writer’s Contest
ages: K – 3rd grade
Details: This isn’t the easiest contest to enter since it depends on local PBS stations and local stations also pick the winners. Word count depends on your grade but is about 100 – 200 words. Rules here.

Betty Award
ages: 8 – 12
Details: Check the website for deadlines for their spring and fall writing contests. Cash prizes. $15 fee.

Brock Eastman
ages:  K – 6 grade
Details: Monthly winners in ongoing writing contest. Check the website for details.

Amazing Kids!
ages: not stated
Details: Check the website for new contests.

FenCon 
ages: grades 3 – 5, grades 6 – 8, grades 9 – 12
Details: Science fiction or fantasy story on any topic. The only limits are your imagination and the short list of rules. No entry fee. There are small cash awards for the winners in each category.  The submissions will be evaluated by a panel of teachers (retired and current).

Neuroscience Kids Poetry Contest
ages: K – 12
Details: Due Feb. 1!

Building Stories Contest / The Henry Ford
ages: 3rd – 12th grades
Details: Each year has a unique writing prompt. That 2016 prompt is to write about Rosa Parks.

Write the World
ages: not stated
Details: This is a online writing community for kids. Contests are posted from time to time here.

Mrs. P’s Be a Famous Writer
ages: K-4th grades
Details: Submissions open from September to mid-November each year with a yearly prompt.

Writing Times 
ages: 5 – 12
This online literary magazine holds writing and drawing competitions throughout the year about a specific theme.

Dandelion Press
ages: all
Use the illustration provided to write a story.

Young Writers Explore Learning (UK ONLY)
ages: 14 and under
Details: A UK based contest judged by author Lauren Child with specific prompts.

Magazines and Online Publications for Kids’ Writing

Creative Kids Magazine
ages: 8 – 16
Details: Cartoons, songs, plays, stories and more are accepted for submission. If you’re choose, your work will appear in the magazine.

Highlights Magazine
ages: not stated
Details: This magazine publishes kid writing but also will publish: drawings, poems, jokes, riddles, tongue twisters, stories, science questions, and book reviews.

Cricket
ages: 9 – 14
Details: Fiction, poetry, and nonfiction welcome in this literary magazine. Guidelines for submissions here.

Stone Soup
ages: 13 and YOUNGER
Details: This magazine receives a lot of submissions so read through what actually gets published for a better chance. It accepts stories, book reviews, and poems. $3 fee.

Skipping Stones
ages: 7 to 17
Details: This publication has a multicultural focus. Send in essays, interviews, poems, plays, or short stories. $5 fee. Winners published in their autumn issue.

The Caterpillar
ages: not stated
Details: This is an Irish publication but accepts entries from anywhere in the world.

Guardian Angel Kids
ages: up to age 14
Details: Themes for submissions here. If your work is accepted (articles, fiction, poetry) then the magazine will own in and will pay you for your work. Just be sure that if your writing is accepted, you don’t post it anywhere else since you will not own it anymore.

Ember
ages: 10 – 18
Details: This publication is searching for compelling poetry, short stories, flash fiction, and creative non-fiction that paint images with language.

Kiki
ages: 0 – 14, 14+
Details: This girls magazine is looking for artwork and fiction stories.

Amazing Kids! Magazine
ages: 5 to 18
Details: A magazine written by kids and teens looking for stories, articles, adventures, and more. Submission guidelines here.

Figment
ages: 13+
Details: This is an online writing community meant to encourage teen writers to write and share their work. You can post your work and get feedback as well as give feedback to other writers. Contests are posted throughout the year.

Cicada Magazine
ages: 14+
Details: This magazine loves SF/fantasy and historical fiction as well as narrative nonfiction about teen topics.

Teen Ink
ages: 13+
Details: This is an online writing community with a wealth of opportunities for young writers.

More publication opportunities for young writers are listed on this website but this list isn’t always current.

 

Welcome!

Download my "can't put 'em down" book lists for your kids ages 3 - 13.

Also, I'll send you a bonus "23 Reasons to Read" printable poster!

Way to go! I can't wait to share with you books that your kids will love. An email to confirm is heading to your in box right now.

by Melissa Taylor14 CommentsFiled Under: Education, Elementary, Imagination Soup, Writing, Writing FunTagged With: contests, Writing

​Looking for a way to challenge your skills, inspire growth in yourself, and motivation to try your hardest? Check out this list of 50 competitions that might help you do just that!

Academic

  • National Economics Challenge - While not available in all states, EconChallenge is an online competition for high school students. Winning teams can eventually compete at the national level.
  • LifeSmarts - Run by the National Consumers League, LifeSmarts competitions encourage high schoolers to learn more about the issues faced by consumers today.
  • MIT Inspire - MIT Inspire is the nation's first comprehensive research competition in the arts, humanities, and social sciences. High school students in the US can apply.
  • National Geographic Bee - This competition held by National Geographic encourages students to learn more about geography.
  • National High School Mock Trial Championship - Initiated in Iowa, this championship allows high school students to achieve a greater understanding through competition and education.
  • Kids Philosophy Slam - The Philosophy Slam tests kids' critical thinking skills. Winners can earn the title of "The Most Philosophical Student in America".
  • National History Day Competition - The National History Day program is a year-long education program that culminates in a national contest every June.
  • University Interscholastic League - UIL offers academic competitions in several areas such as Journalism, Speech & Debate, STEM Activities, and Theatre & Film.
  • American Model United Nations International - Model UN strives to create a realistic simulation of a United Nations conference, allowing students to practice diplomacy.

ART and MUSIC 

  • National YoungArts Foundation - Talented individuals age 15-18 who get accepted to the competition participate in week long intensives in their discipline. During these intensives, students are judged and have a chance to win up to $10,000 in cash rewards and are eligible for a nomination as a U.S. Presidential Scholar in the arts.
  • Doodle 4 Google - Submit a design to Google for a chance to have your artwork appear on millions of computer screens as the Google Logo.
  • Vans Custom Culture - In this competition, Vans encourages high schools to come together to submit a custom design based around a specific theme. The winning high school will receive $50,000 towards their school's art program.
  • Congressional Art Competition - This competition sponsored by the Congressional Institute recognizes high school students' artistic talents. Winning artwork is displayed in the White House for one year.
  • National Geographic Student Photo Competition - Talented photography students grades 9-12 can submit their photos that capture the student's sense of exploration and adventure.
  • International Children's Painting Competition on the Environment - An annual international competition held by the UN Environment program for kids aged 5-13. It focuses on environmental awareness and global peace.
  • The Lynn Freeman Olson Competition - This competition sponsored by the National Federation of Music Clubs (NFMC) provides monetary awards to students of various ages who enter their composition.
  • Stillman Kelley/Thelma Byrum Awards - This instrumental competition, also sponsored by NFMC honors talented musicians under the age of 19.
  • MTNA Student Competitions - The Music Teachers National Association holds 5 annual competitions in which students compete at state, division, and national levels for merit based awards.
  • American Protege - Singers of all ages can compete in an American Protege competition which has categories for vocalities, string instrumentalists and more.
  • NATS Singing Competition - The National Association of Teachers of Singing holds a series of competitions to showcase young, talented, singers.

Physical Activity

  • Dance Masters of America - Members of Dance Masters of America can compete in various categories and several types of dance media.
  • NASKA - Members of the National American Sport Karate Association can compete in competitions in their division.
  • Ski Team - You can find a ski team near you to participate in statewide and nationwide ski and snowboarding competitions.
  • UCA Cheer - The Universal Cheerleaders Association holds camps and competitions around the nation.
  • Jiu-Jitsu - Interested in competing in Jiu-Jitsu? The North American Jiu-Jitsu Federation has all the information about training and competitions.
  • Figure Skating - The US Figure Skating Association has information regarding state Elementary, Middle and High School figure skating competitions that can eventually lead to National or even International competitions.

STEM Competitions

  • Society for the Science and Public Science Fairs - Win a SSP affiliated science fair and get an automatic nomination to the Broadcom MASTERS (grades 6-8) or ISEF (grades 9-12) competitions.
  • AEOP - The Army Education Outreach Program provides both students and teachers a collaborative, cohesive, portfolio of Army-sponsored STEM programs that effectively engage, inspire, and attract the next generation of STEM talent through K through college programs and expose them to DoD STEM careers.
  • Google Science Fair - This is a science and technology competition for anyone, team or individual, around the world ages 13-18. Participants are rewarded for being creative, inspiring, and designing projects that will make an impact on local or global communities.
  • STEM Video Game Challenge - This competition aims to encourage critical thinking, problem solving, collaboration and communication in Middle School and High School students by challenging them to create an original video game.
  • Stockholm Junior Water Prize - The Water Environment Federation has created a competition for students in grades 9-12 who have conducted a water-science research project.
  • FIRST Lego League - FLL aims to create future problem-solvers by asking students to apply STEM concepts to real-world problems. The presentation of the project also challenges the students' communication and creativity.
  • Technology Student Association - The TSA believes in the need for a technology literate society. Middle School and High School students can create a variety of projects applicable to agriculture, web design, and many other fields.
  • Verizon App Challenge - In this competition, Verizon Innovative Learning invites 6-12th graders to create a mobile app that will solve a problem in their community.
  • Mathcounts - MATHCOUNTS enables middle school students of all abilities to gain confidence in their math ability. Not only can students participate in one of their competitions, but members can also enter their own teaching videos into a video challenge.
  • Science Bee - The National Science Bee takes place during the Academic Bee and Bowl. Students K-8 are asked to answer a set of 35 science related questions ranging from biology to the history of science.
  • FIRST Robotics - FIRST Robotics competitions allow members to embrace their competitive side. Under the supervision of a mentor, students build robots to play a field-game against other competitors.
  • Math Bee - The National Math Bee is an online math competition for children in grades 1-6, allowing them to hone their math skills. After succeeding in the classroom, school wide, district and state competitions, students compete in the National Math Bee Championship.
  • Caribou Mathematics Competition - There are six online competitions held throughout the year offered for students in grades 3-12. 
  • CleanTech - CleanTech asks students to use STEM concepts in order to research and design a product that will deal with an environmentally related issue.

Volunteering

  • Destination Imagination - Students form teams of up to 7 and design and carry out a project that will help their community. This organization also provides Fine Arts and STEM challenges.
  • President's National Service Award - The President's National Service Award encourages people of all ages to volunteer. By volunteering at a Certifying Organization for the required number of hours, you will be recognized the this award.
  • National Student Volunteer Award - Volunteering students are rewarded for their dedication, leadership, innovation, and impact they have made on their community. Your school needs to apply for this award.
  • Governor's Volunteer Award - Governor's Volunteer Awards are meant to recognize accomplished volunteers in an individual state, and therefore vary based on where you live.
  • C-Span's Student Cam - Students in grades 6-12 can submit a short documentary about topics that affect our communities and nation.

Writing

  • Anne Frank Essay Contest - Sponsored by KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, students in grades 5-8 can submit an essay for the chance to win three round trip tickets to visit the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam.
  • Americanism Essay Contest - Open for students grades 7-12, students are awarded a monetary prize and plaque for the winning essay.
  • Ayn Rand Institute Contest - This contest is open to students grade 8-12 and offers cash prizes for the top Ayn Rand-themed essays.
  • Creative Communication Poetry Contest - Open for students of all ages, this contest aims to highlight the work of talented writers by publishing the winners in a book.
  • National High School Essay Contest - This contest sponsored by the U.S. Foreign Service, gives high school students important international topics to think and write about.

This list covers only a small number of the many competitions out there, but hopefully it opens your eyes to the many types of contests out there!​

** We just added 40 More Competitions Every Student Needs to Know About​

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