Children’s Map Competition – Rules and Judging

Children 15 years of age or younger are invited to produce a map illustration on the theme “A Map of My Future World.”


  1. The maximum size for an entry is 17 x 11 inches. Illustrations can be made using any unbreakable material. Mixed media entries are welcome, but the height of pasted-on components must be no greater than 0.2 inches.
  2. The theme “A Map of My Future World” may be illustrated in any way, using pictures, drawings, words, objects, or other graphical elements, but the illustration must include (somewhere) a map of all or a large portion of the world, with recognizable continents, age-appropriate features, and/or representations. It may be helpful for children to begin their design and illustrations by thinking about how maps can tell a story or convey a message about the world, in this case, the world of the future. This future may be interpreted as tomorrow, or the world in 50 years, or centuries beyond!
  3. Entries will categorized by age groups—under 6 years of age, ages 6 through 8 years, ages 9 through 12 years, and ages 13 through 15 years—based on the child’s age as of January 1, 2021.
  4. One entry may be submitted by a single child or a group of up to three children in the same age group.
  5. In cases of multiple children creating one illustration, the age of the oldest child will be used for this categorization. (CLARIFY THIS.)
  6. Each entry must include a completed entry form (ADD LINK) and a signed permission slip (ADD LINK). These forms are also required by the International Cartographic Association for the international competition.
  7. The completed entry form should be attached to the back of the illustration.
  8. All materials for a single entry or all materials for the entries from a single school should be sent in one package and postmarked no later than April 10 to arrive in time for the April 15, 2021, deadline. Entries should be sent to:
    Dierdre Bevington-Attardi, Coordinator
    U.S. Children’s Map Competition
    P.O. Box 4339
    Silver Spring, MD 20914
  9. Submitted illustrations must be original and hard-copy—no digital files (image files, .pdfs, etc.) will be accepted.
  10. We encourage participants to scan or photograph the finished illustration for their records. Submitted entries cannot be returned.
  11. Members of the U.S. National Committee (USNC) for the International Cartographic Association (ICA) will select first, second, and third place winners in each of the four age groups. Honorable mentions may also be awarded.
  12. Winners will be sent official certificates of award.
  13. The four first place winners, plus two additional entries selected by the USNC-ICA, will be entered in the international Barbara Petchenik Children’s World Map Drawing Competition.
  14. Entries in the international competition will be displayed in the Children’s Map Exhibition held in conjunction with the International Cartographic Conference. ICC 2021 is currently scheduled for December 13 through 17, 2021.
  15. An international jury will select the winners for each age group. In addition, a winner selected through a Public Vote by the exhibit attendees and a winner of the Creativity Award will be announced during the closing ceremony for ICC. The winners will be notified immediately after the ICC concludes.
  16. International winners become the property of the ICA and the library of Carleton University in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.


The national and international judges will focus on three areas:

  1. A recognizable message—a connection between the form, shape, and use of cartographic elements that creatively address the competition’s theme of “A Map of My Future World”.
  2. Cartographic content—appropriate cartographic elements, such as symbols, colors, names, labels, etc., which help address the competition’s theme. Note: cartographic accuracy (e.g., of coastlines of continents) is not a primary concern, although the illustration should be recognizable as a map in combination with the artist’s unique interpretation or design to portray his or her theme or story.
  3. Overall quality of the execution—aesthetic quality in such matters as balance and harmony, use of color, legibility, and relations among the illustration elements.

Other considerations:

  • Any number of “systems of projections” can be used to depict coastlines, land masses, or boundaries.
  • The illustration should be an original piece of work.
  • The illustration can be made using traditional methods (i.e. color pencils, crayons, watercolor) or computer program.
  • Please do not use glass or other breakable materials or perishable materials (e.g., leaves of plants).

More information

For more info on the international competition, please visit the website of the International Cartographic Association, the Commission on Cartography and Children, or the Commission’s Facebook profile.

Check out the winning illustrations from previous competitions on the website of the International Cartographic Association. You can search and browse all maps entered in the competitions since 1993 in the Carleton University Library archive of the Barbara Petchenik Children’s Map Competition.

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