“Z, z, zip,” says the zipper!

Emergent Literacy Design

By: Michel Fields



Rationale: This lesson will help the students identify /z/, the phoneme represented by Z. She will learn to recognize /z/ in spoken words by pretending to zip up a jacket when she hears the sound. She will learn what Z looks like. The students will apply phoneme awareness with /z/ in phonetic cue reading by distinguishing rhyming words from beginning letters.


Materials: Primary paper, pencil, picture of a zipper with “Ziggy Zebra Zapped from the Zany Zoo”, Zigby Hunts for Treasure by Brian Paterson, note cards with ZOO, MAN, ZANY, ZIP,  SICK, ZAP; assessment worksheet, crayons



1. The words that we say to one another are made up of letters. We put the letters together to create a message. Each letter has its own sound. Today we are going to focus on the sound /z/. We spell /z/ with the letter Z. [I will show the “Z, z, zip,” says the zipper card]. /z/ sounds like what your zipper says when you zip up your jacket: Z, z, zip!

2. Let’s pretend you’re zipping up your jacket, /z/,/z/, /z/. [pretend to zip up jacket]. Feel the shape your mouth is in? When we say /z/, we almost touch our teeth together and put our tongue towards our teeth.

3. I’m going to show you have to find the /z/ in the word buzzer. I’m going to say it very slowly and listen for z, z, zip! Bbb-uuu-zzzzzz-errrrr. Slower: Bbb-u-u-zz-zz-errr. Found it! I felt my teeth almost touching! I can hear /z/ in buzzer.

4. Let’s try a tongue tickler! “Ziggy Zebra Zapped from the Zany Zoo.” Savannah, say it three times and pretend to zip up your jacket each time you hear /z/. Great! This time stretch out the /z/ in the words as I point to them! “Zzzziggy zzzebra zzzapped from the zzzzany zzzoo.” Okay, this last time break the /z/ off each word: “/Z/iggy /z/ebra /z/zapped from the /z/any /z/oo.”

5. [I will give Savannah a piece of primary paper and a pencil]. As I said earlier, we use the letter Z to spell /z/. Capital Z and lowercase z look the same, just different sizes. They look like zig-zags. Let’s start with the lowercase z. Start at the fence and draw a little 7, then right down the sidewalk. Let’s try it! Make five more just like that one! Now let’s try the capital Z. This time start at the rooftop and draw a big 7 down to the sidewalk and go right down the sidewalk. That’s good, now make five more just the same.

6. Okay Savannah, we’re going to practice picking out /z/ in words. Do you hear /z/ in zane or cane? Chip or zip? Brainy or zany? Now I’m going to say some words. Pretend to zip up your jacket when you hear /z/: buzz, cat, fiz, lick, zing,  zoo.

7. Now we’re going to read a book! The book Zigby Hunts for Treasure is about a zebra named Zigby, a guinea fowl named Bertie Bird, and a meerkat names McMeer. These three friends go on adventures together. This time they decide to go down the river, where they find a treasure map. They follow it through the dangerous jungle. Do you think they will make it out and find the treasure? This book has several words with /z/ in it. Every time you hear /z/, pretend to zip up your jacket. Let’s see if Zigby finds the treasure.

8. I will show ZOO and model how to decide if it is zoo or moo: The Z tells me to zip up my jacket and touch my teeth together, /z/, so the word is zzz-oo, zoo, not moo. Your turn: MAN: man or zan? ZANY: many or zany? ZIP: zip or lip? SICK: zick or sick? ZAP: cap or zap?

9. To assess Savannah’s learning, I will give her the worksheet. She is to complete the spellings that start with z and color the pictures. Here is the website for the worksheet: http://www.kidzone.ws/imageschanged/kindergarten/z-as-begins2.gif


1. Assessmentworksheet:


2. Murray, Geralyn, “M, m, mmm,” says my mouth! https://sites.google.com/site/readingwritingconnection/designing-emergent-literacy-lesson

3. Reading Genie Lesson, Hilary Shell: Zippy at the Zoo http://www.auburn.edu/academic/education/reading_genie/odysseys/shellel.html


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