Hmm, I have to disagree, Clyde. Designing cutesy Valentine boxes is hardly the same as judging serious masterpieces or mathematical efforts - this is about classroom fun, not serious math. The children know that this is a "contest" going into the activity so they are prepared for the competition. And I personally think that children deserve the opportunity to experience competition - and losing - in fun, safe contexts. Of course it's important to teach children to respect everyone's efforts. But it's also important to teach children to lose graciously and not to define their worth through a win or loss. If we bar them from such opportunities, later on they are more likely to be inhibited by competition and not be willing to take risks. If they learn to shrug off a silly "loss" as youngsters, they won't have that fear hovering over them. The "everybody is a winner" phenomena is unrealistic; teaching students to feel like a winner based on intrinsic gratification and pride in one's work IS truly important!
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