By: Ashley Troha

 Emergent Literacy


This lesson will help students recognize the phoneme represented by Z which makes the /z/ sound.  By using hand gestures and visual representation students will have more help in recognizing the phoneme /z/.  The tongue ticklers will not only aid in the student being able to think about the movement of mouth, but will also help as well in recognizing the letter Z and its phoneme /z/.


Primary paper and pencil

Picture of a zipper with phoneme /z/ and tongue tickler "Zack the zebra zipped to the zoo."

Drawing paper and crayons

Dr. Seuss's ABC (Random House, 1963). Bright and Early Board Book (short version)

Word card with take, zap, zero, fun, zig, ramp, hate, fuzz, cozy, sing,

Word card with be, hazy, zoo, gum, fly, dog, zoom, the, pink, zebras


Word cards with ZOOM, ZAG, ZAP ZERO, ZOO


Assessment worksheet identifying pictures with /f/ (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 and demonstrate it with the sound of a zipper."


2.  Say: "Let's pretend to zip up our zipper. /z/ /z/ /z/. [Pantomime zipping up zipper].  Did you notice that when we make the /z/ sound our teeth touch?  Let's try one more time to make sure our teeth our touching.  /z/ /z/ /z/.  Good job!"

3.  Say: "Let me show you how to find the /z/ sound in the word buzz.  Bb-uu-uzz.  Hmm, if I say it slower like b-b-b-u-u-u-z-z-z-z-z, I feel my teeth touch at the end of the word.  So the z must be at the end.  Now you try it.  Do you hear /z/ in jazz?"

4.  Say: "Do you know what this is a picture of?  Yes, you're right!  It's a zipper! Remember the /z/ sound in zipper.  Now let's try a fun tongue tickler. [Listed on picture sheet]  Zack the zebra zipped to the zoo.  If you hear the /z/ sound, I want you to pretend that you're zipping your zipper.  Now let's say it together slowly stretching the /z/ sound at the beginning of the words.  Zzzack the zzzebra zzzipped to the zzzoo.  Remember the /z/ sound makes us touch our teeth together like we're zipping our zipper.  This time let's break off the words as we say them.  Here is an example of how to say the words:  /z/  ipper.  Now let's go.  /z/ ack the /z/ ebra /z/ ipped to the /z/ oo."

5.  [Have students take out paper and pencil]. Say:  "We use the letter Z to spell /z/.  Let's write the lowercase letter z. Zig across the rooftop, zag down to the sidewalk, and zig back to the right.  I want to see everybody's z.  After I put a smile on it, I want you to make nine more just like it."


6.  [Call on students to answer and tell how they knew]  Say:  "Do you hear /z/ in take or zap? zero or fun?  zig or ramp? hate or fuzz?  cozy or sing?  Say: Let's see if you can spot the mouth move /z/ in some words. Zip your zipper if you hear /z/: be, hazy, zoo, gum, fly, dog, zoom, the, pink, zebras."


7.  Say: "Let's look at an alphabet book. Dr. Seuss tells us about a funny creature whose name starts with Z. Can you guess?" Read last page, drawing out /z/. Ask children if they can think of other words with /z/. Ask them to make up a silly creature name like Zizzer-zazzer-zuzz, or Zipper-Zooper-zim. Then have each student write their silly name with invented spelling and draw a picture of their silly creature. Display their work.


8.  Show ZIP and model how to decide if it is zip or dip: Say:  "The Z tells me to zip my zipper, /z/, so this word is zzz-ip, zip. You try some: ZOOM: zoom or doom? ZAG: zag or wag? ZAP: zap or map? ZERO: Zero or hero? ZOO:  zoo or too?"


9.  For assessment, distribute the worksheet. Students are to complete the partial spellings and color the pictures that begin with Z. Call students individually to read the phonetic cue words from step #8.



Ashley James, Always Zip your Zipper


Assessment worksheet:

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