Every year, HSLDA offers quarterly contests in art, poetry, photography, and essay writing, open to all homeschooled students (ages 7–19). Through its contests, HSLDA hopes to offer homeschooled students the opportunity to hone their skills in a fun and creative setting that invites them to think outside the box and be rewarded for excellence.

Art Contest

December 1–February 1 (contest is closed)

Category 1 (Ages 7–10*): American Realism 

Incorporate one characteristic of American Realism art in your entry.

Category 2 (Ages 11–14*): American Folk 

Incorporate one characteristic of American Folk art in your entry.

Category 3 (Ages 15–19*): Hudson River School

Incorporate one characteristic of Hudson River School art in your entry.

View Winners

*All ages are as of December 1, 2021


Poetry Contest

March 1–May 1 (contest is closed)

Category 1 (Ages 7–10*)

Think of two foods that don’t necessarily go together and write about them in a poem.

Maximum poem length: 16 lines.
Rhyme pattern: Poem should have a discernible rhyme scheme.
Example poem: Green Eggs and Ham, by Dr. Seuss

Category 2 (Ages 11–14*)

Write a poem styled after Lewis Carroll’s Jabberwocky using whimsical and nonsensical language. 

Maximum poem length: 16 lines.
Rhyme pattern: Poem should have a discernible rhyme scheme.
Example poem: Jabberwocky, by Lewis Carroll

Category 3 (Ages 15–19*)

Write a poem that uses a metaphor or simile that runs throughout the poem.

Maximum poem length: 16 lines.
Rhyme pattern: Poem should have a discernible rhyme scheme.
Example poem: A Red, Red Rose, by Robert Burns

View Winners

*All ages are as of March 1, 2022


Photo Contest

June 1–August 1 (contest is closed)

Words likely flood your mind when you analyze a photo to determine why it attracts your attention. If you think about it hard enough, you can probably even boil those words down to single-word descriptors. In this year’s photography contest, create a photo shoot that reflects the single-word descriptor in your age category.

Category 1 (Ages 7-10*): Small

Everywhere you look, you will find big things and even bigger things, like cars, trees, and skyscrapers. But if you look closely, you will find some small objects worth noting. For example, maybe your family has begun growing your own produce and now finding a few small, bright, juicy tomatoes in your garden means fresh tomato soup and grilled cheese for dinner (your favorite!). Or perhaps you appreciate something small for its visually stunning effect—a hunk of pyrite that sparkles radiantly in the sunlight. Let these two examples of “small” things spark your creativity to interpret this theme in any number of ways. Submit a photo that embodies the word small.

Category 2 (Ages 11-14*): Natural

The abundant, elemental beauty of earth sometimes seems hard to find as urbanization expands. However, no matter where you are, the beauty of naturally-occurring, simple things or settings can be detected with sharp eyes—eyes that want to see it. Maybe your neighborhood is completely overtaken with dandelions. While not the most obvious candidate for a lovely subject, a dandelion can appear just as graceful as the most delicate rose in the right setting, with the right lighting, taken from the right angle. As the photographer, your task is to find that perspective! Let this example of a “natural” subject spark your creativity to interpret this theme in any number of ways. Submit a photo that embodies the word natural.

Category 3 (Ages 15-19*): Dazzling

Most dictionary definitions of dazzling relate to intense light or brightness and/or impressive quality. Can you recall when you encountered something dazzling? Maybe fireworks or a rainbow? While it might be difficult to project your own rainbow, you can still discover some dazzle in everyday settings. Picture the way the light hits your mom’s favorite glassware freshly cleaned with lemon juice, or how the light pours in through the stained glass in your church’s foyer. Let these few examples of “dazzling” things spark your creativity to interpret this theme in any number of ways. Submit a photo that embodies the word dazzling.

View Winners

*All ages are as of June 1, 2021


Essay Contest

September 1–November 1 (contest is closed)

Category 1 (Ages 7–10*)

A friend is a special gift—someone whom you can play with, talk to, and trust. Sometimes you find friends in surprising places; maybe your friend is not your peer or is pretend. The comic Calvin and Hobbes features a great example of a make-believe friend, Hobbes the imaginary tiger. A friend can be a family member, one of your pets, or somebody from your church or another group. Tell us about one of your friends, whether real or imaginary. 

Category 2 (Ages 11–14*)

Sometimes life places us in uncomfortable and uncertain situations. For instance, when a natural disaster occurs, our families may have to evacuate to a safer place than home. In a situation like this, it’s important to have the essentials ready to go—say, in an emergency backpack. If you were to prepare an emergency backpack, what would you put in it?

Category 3 (Ages 15–19*)

Challenging experiences teach us important, practical lessons about life and about ourselves, and navigating a pandemic is no exception. Now, think into the future. . . .  If we were to experience another pandemic in 2051, what three significant lessons from this past year would you want to pass on to the generation of teenagers going through that future pandemic?

View Winners

*All ages are as of September 1, 2021


All contest profits go to HSLDA Compassion, which uses them to provide low-income homeschooling families with access to educational and legal resources to help them continue homeschooling.

Please contact the Contest Coordinator at contests@hslda.org with any questions.