Zip Up with Z

Emergent Literacy Design

Ansley Salter


Rationale: This lesson will help children identify /z/, the phoneme represented by Z.

 Students will learn to recognize /z/ in spoken words by learning a meaningful representation (zipping your mouth shut) and the letter symbol Z, practice finding /z/ in words, and apply phoneme awareness with /z/ in phonetic cue reading by distinguishing rhyming words from beginning letters.



 Primary paper and pencil; chart with "Zachs zebra does zigzags in the zoo";

drawing paper and crayons; Zin! Zin! Zin! A Violin (by Lloyd Moss); word cards

with FUZZY, ZAP, ZOO, FIZZ, ZEBRA, and MAZE; assessment worksheet identifying pictures with /z/ (URL below).




 1. Say: Our written language is a secret code. The tricky part is

learning what letters stand for���the mouth moves we make as we say words. Today

we're going to work on spotting the mouth move /z/. We spell /z/ with letter Z. Z looks like the teeth of a zipper, and /z/ sounds like zipping a zipper.


2. Let's pretend to zip our mouth shut: /z/ p, /z/ p, /z/ p. [model zipping your lips shut] Think about what your mouth does when you make that sound: where your teeth are touching? (Touching together) and where your tongue is? (almost touching the back of your front teeth). When we say /z/, we blow air through our teeth.


3. Let me show you how to find /z/ in the word maze. I'm going to stretch maze out in

super slow motion and listen for my zipper. Mmm-a-a-azze. Slower: Mmm-a-a-a-zzz-e

There it was! I felt my tongue almost touch my teeth and I am blowing air. I can feel the zipper /z/ in maze. What about rake? No, I do not feel my mouth making the right mouth moves and blowing air.


4. Let's try a tongue twister [on chart]. "Zachs zebra does zigzags in the zoo." Everybody say it together. Now say it again, and this time, stretch the /z/ at the

beginning of the words. "Zzzachs zzzebra does zzzigzags in the zzzoo." Try it again, and this time break it off the word: " /z/ achs /z/ ebra does /z/ igzags in the /z/ oo."


5. [Have students take out primary paper and pencil]. We use letter Z to spell /z/.

Capital Z looks like the teeth of a zipper. Let's write the lowercase letter z. Start on the fence. Make a line along the fence, then cross from the end of that line on the fence to just below the start of that line on the sidewalk. Then make a similar line on the sidewalk back the other way. I want to see all of your z s. Once you show me, I want you to make five more of them! I


6. Call on students to answer and tell how they knew: Do you hear /z/ in buzz or

ring? freeze or melt? creep or zoom? furry or fuzz? zoo or park? Say: Let's see if you can spot the mouth move /z/ in some words. Zip your mouth if you hear /z/: zero, green, frozen, zoomed, elephant, fizz, brag, maze, left.


7. Say: "Let us look at a book that has the /z/ sound in it. "Zin! Zin! Zin! A Violin" has the /z/ sounds in the title three times. What in the book do you think will make that /z/ sound? Can you guess?" Read the book and accentuate the /z/ sounds of the violin. Ask them to think of other things that could make the /z/ sound and have them draw a picture with the /z/ sound being produced by whatever they chose. Hang their work to increase awareness of the /z/ sound in words around them.


8. Show ZOO and model how to decide if it is zoo or too: The Z tells me to zip my mouth, /z/, so this word is zzz-oo, zoo. You try some: ZIP: zip or rip? ZIN: fin

or zin? ZAP: zap or map? FIZZ: wizz or fizz? FUZZY: fuzzy or funny?


9. For assessment, distribute the worksheet and have students. Students are to draw a line to the pictures that have the /z/ sound and then write the letter Z beside them.




Activity :


Tongue Tickler:

"Zach's Zebra does zigzags in the zoo."


Moss, Loyd. Zin! Zin! Zin! A Violin. Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers. 1995.


Helpful Lesson:

Zippy the Zebra Zooms Through the Zoo, by Morgan Barrow


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