About the Zaner-Bloser National Handwriting Contest
Now in its 24th year, the National Handwriting Contest is an annual event sponsored by Zaner-Bloser to promote legible handwriting. The contest is free to enter and open to all students in Grades K–8. The contest includes a Special Needs category, the Nicholas Maxim Award. Students can win many great prizes, including cash and trophies. Zaner-Bloser estimates that more than 4 million students have participated in the contest over its 23-year history.
Submit your school winners using the provided forms before January 23, 2015.
2015 Contest Rules and Awards
Is your school new to the contest this year? Or do you need a quick refresher on the National Handwriting Contest rules and awards? This information is also included in the contest entry materials that you can download above.
The contest is open to all students in Grades K–8. Winners will be selected from schools that use the Zaner-Bloser Handwriting program. Participating schools should select and submit only one winner per grade per school for Grades K–8 for the main contest and one winner each for the manuscript category and cursive category for the special needs contest.
Entries should be sent to Zaner-Bloser National Handwriting Contest, PO Box 16764, Columbus, OH 43216-6764. Entries postmarked after January 23, 2015 (National Handwriting Day) will not be judged. Decisions by contest judges are final. Names, grade levels, and schools of winners will be posted on the Zaner-Bloser website and may be released to the media.
How to Submit a Winning Entry
Impress upon your students the importance of legible handwriting. Give a copy of the appropriate form to each student that wishes to enter: Manuscript, Grades K–2; Cursive, Grades 3–4; Cursive, Grades 5–8; and Nicholas Maxim Special Needs Entry Form. Allow students time to practice before writing their final entry on a clean form. Remember: Handwriting should be relaxed and natural, not traced—neatness counts. Reward each student who enters the contest with a copy of the Zaner-Bloser Certificate of Participation.
Submit one winner per grade per school for Grades K–8 for the main contest and one winner each for the manuscript category and cursive category for the special needs contest to represent your school along with the completed School Information Form. Please note that you do not have to submit an entry for every grade level to participate in the contest. For example, you could submit entries for Grades 1–4 or only a single grade level. Just be sure that all entries for your school get sent in together using only one School Information Form. A School Information Form must accompany all entries.
Mail the winning entries to Zaner-Bloser National Handwriting Contest, PO Box 16764, Columbus, OH 43216-6764 by January 23, 2015.
Judging and Awards (Main Contest)
All entries will be judged according to the Zaner-Bloser Keys to Legibility—Size, Shape, Spacing, and Slant—which can be found on the reverse side of each entry form.
Every student whose entry is submitted to the judges will receive a School Grade-Level Winner Certificate. All public and private schools with a winner will be notified by April 30, 2015, so that presentation assemblies can be scheduled and all prizes can be awarded.
State Grade-Level Winners—Judges will select a Public and Private State Grade-Level (K–8) Winner for each state. There could be 18 State Grade-Level Winners for each state, one from each grade in both school categories. Zaner-Bloser reserves the right not to choose a State Grade-Level Winner if the entries do not meet the legibility criteria. State Grade-Level Winners will receive a prize package for themselves and their school worth a combined value of $250.
National Grade-Level Semifinalists—Judges will select Public and Private National Grade-Level Semifinalists from the State Winners. There could be 18 National Grade-Level Semifinalists, one from each grade (K–8) in both school categories. Zaner-Bloser reserves the right not to choose a Semifinalist if the entries do not meet the legibility criteria. National Grade-Level Semifinalists will receive a prize package for themselves and their school worth a combined value of $750.
Grand National Grade–Level Champions—Judges will select nine Grand National Grade-Level (K–8) Champions from the 18 Public and Private National Grade-Level Semifinalists. Zaner-Bloser reserves the right not to choose a Grand National Grade-Level Champion if the entries do not meet the legibility criteria. Each Grand National Grade-Level Champion will be awarded a $1,000 cash prize. Each teacher of a Grand National Grade-Level Champion will be awarded a trip to the 2015 International Reading Association Conference in St. Louis, MO. Each school of a Grand National Grade-Level Champion will receive a $1,000 Zaner-Bloser Gift Certificate.
Judging and Awards (Special Needs Contest)
All Nicholas Maxim Award Contest entries must be submitted in either manuscript or cursive. Entries are judged by a team of occupational therapists and educators utilizing metrics provided by the Zaner-Bloser Keys to Legibility rubric of Shape, Size, Spacing and Slant. Additional consideration is given to the challenges each special needs student who enters must face with regard to their specific cognitive, intellectual, physical, and/or developmental disability.
Student entries must be submitted in manuscript or cursive using the Nicholas Maxim Entry Form. Entries must include a letter providing specific information about your students’ handwriting challenge. Letters should be submitted on School or District letterhead and signed by the Occupational Therapist, Special Education Provider, and/or Principal.
Nicholas Maxim entries should be sent to Zaner-Bloser National Handwriting Contest, PO Box 16764, Columbus, OH 43216-6764. A School Information Form must accompany all entries. Entries must be received on or before January 23, 2015 (National Handwriting Day). Each of the special needs student eligible entries will receive either a Nicholas Maxim Manuscript School Winner certificate or a Nicholas Maxim Cursive School Winner certificate. From all of the eligible entries, one National Champion in each category (Manuscript and Cursive) will be selected. The school of the National Champion of the Nicholas Maxim Manuscript Award and the National Champion of the Nicholas Maxim Cursive Award will be notified by April 30, 2015, so that presentation assemblies can be scheduled and prizes can be awarded to the National Champions. National Champions in each category (Manuscript and Cursive) will receive a $1,000 cash prize and an engraved trophy. Names, grades, and schools of the National Champions will be posted on Zaner-Bloser’s website and may be released to the media.
Free Resources for Handwriting Practice
Before your students put pen to paper on their National Handwriting Contest entry form, let them practice the Keys to Legibility and handwriting skills that will make them handwriting all-stars! Here are some helpful free tools and ideas to get you started:
Handwriting Tips Videos
These short, animated videos feature handwriting tips appropriate for your grade level.
Give your students practice where they need it most and create your own worksheets. The free version of the ZB FontsOnline PlusTM application includes editable templates with grade-specific guidelines and Zaner-Bloser’s manuscript and cursive alphabets. Try it now.
Fine and Gross Motor Skill Development Activities
Strengthen the motor skills that lead to improved handwriting with these effective activities developed by leading occupational therapists.Learn More
Zaner-Bloser Handwriting Stroke Descriptions
Take your students step-by-step through proper letter and numeral formation with these easy-to-remember stroke descriptions.
The Four Keys to Legibility—Shape, Size, Spacing, and Slant—are essential to legible handwriting and form the criteria for judging the National Handwriting Contest. Download these kid-friendly guidelines to help your students understand each key.
As students practice for the contest, they can use these helpful guides with grade-appropriate models of Excellent, Good, Average, Fair, and Poor handwriting to self-evaluate and improve their handwriting.