Zig, Zag, and Zooming to the Zoo


Emergent Literacy

By: Melinda Hardin



Rationale:  For this lesson you will be teaching emergent readers to recognize the grapheme z in written words and the phoneme /z/ in spoken words.  From the lesson students will gain this knowledge by listening and repeating the spoken phoneme /z/ as well as practicing writing the upper and lower case grapheme.  This is very important for children because a child who can recognize most letters with confidence will have an easier time learning about letter sounds and word spellings.



-Primary paper


-Dry-erase board or chalk board

-Poster with “Zoey zipped, zoomed, and zigzagged to the zoo” written on it

-Zigby Hunts for Treasure by Brian Patterson

-Large pictures (big enough for whole class to see) of different objects that start with the letter z and some that do not (i.e. zebra, zero, zipper, zoo, mouse, tree, boots)

-Worksheet with pictures of objects that start with the letter z and some that do not. (i.e. zipper, zebra, zoo, cow, duck, or dog)



1.First review the consonants and vowels you have previously taught, and ask the students to tell you the grapheme and phoneme for each letter.  Good review questions would include: “Do I hear /b/ in bay or clay?”

2.Then introduce z by telling the students we are going to learn a new letter today.  Present the letter z by writing it on the board and explaining that the letter z says /z/ like in the word Zoey or zoo.  This letter often sounds like a bee fling through the air.  Lets all making the flying bee sound together(buzzzzzzz).  Explain to the students that every time they see this letter in a word make this sound.

3.Have students practice their buzzing z sound.  Then ask the students if they hear the sound /z/ in zoo or boo?

4.Now have the students look at the tongue twister written on the poster.  First read the tongue twister to the students stretching out the /z/ sound in each of the words that it appears in (ZZZZZZZZZZoey zzzzzzzzipped, zzzzzoomed, and zzzzzigzzzzzagged to the zzzzzoo.)  Then have the students reread the tongue twister just like you did, and they need to make the buzzing bee sound every time they hear the /z/ sound

5.Take out the enlarged pictures starting with z and not starting with z.  Then show the pictures to the students one at a time.  First read each picture to them and ask them if they hear the phoneme /z/ in each of the pictures. (i.e. ask if the word tree has the phoneme /z/ in it.

6.Now we are going to read the book Zigby Hunts for Treasure by Brian Patterson.   Start by giving a quick book talk.  Tell the students Zigby is going on a great adventure and he needs your help.  He is hunting for some treasure and really needs to find it.  Do you think Zigby is going to be able to find the treasure?  You will have to read and find out.  As we read the book listen for the /z/ sound and every time you here /z/ I want you all to make the buzzing bee sound /z/.  Let's practice before we begin, everyone say /z/. Great job!  Let's read.

7.Next, pass out the primary paper and have them get out their pencils.  Now that we know how to read the letter z and what it sounds like so now we need to learn how to write the letter z.

8.Tell the students that the top line of the primary paper is the rooftop, the middle dotted line is the fence, the bottom line is the sidewalk, and below the line is the ditch.  First model how to write a uppercase Z on the board.  Explain that you zig across the rooftop, zag down to the sidewalk, and zig back to the right.  Tell the students to repeat this saying along with you while you all make uppercase Z's on your paper.  Have the students repeat this 7 more times as you walk around the room and observe the students and check for their understanding. 

9.After they finish explain to the students how to make a lowercase z.  Model on the board how to write the letter z.  You do the same thing as if writing a uppercase Z ( zig, zag, zig), but you start at the fence instead of the rooftop.  Model this on the board.  Then as a class repeat the saying, and finally have the students repeat making the lowercase z 7 more times, as you walk around the room to observe them.

10.To assess the students, distribute a sheet with pictures on it and have the students color the pictures that begin with the /z/ sound and put an x on the pictures that do not begin with the /z/ sound.



Shell, Hillary. “Zippy at the Zoo” http://www.auburn.edu/academic/education/reading_genie/odysseys/shellel.html

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