Zora, the Zippy Zebra

Emergent Literacy Design

Kristen Baumgartel

Rationale:  Before students can learn to spell and to read, they must develop the knowledge that letters stand for phonemes and spellings map out the phonemes in words.  This lesson is designed to teach beginning readers to recognize the phoneme /z/ in spoken words and the grapheme z in written words.  Students will learn this letter and its sound by repeating words and rhymes with the z sound.  They will also identify the letter z in words.  When students are able to identify letters and sounds, they gain confidence in their ability to read, and they develop listening and writing skills that build upon each other.  Therefore, teaching the grapheme z and the phoneme /z/ is important in helping students develop the necessary skills for successful reading.


Primary paper and pencil, chart with ���A buzzing bee zoomed around Zora, the zippy zebra; copies of the book, What Begins with Z, (dltk-teach.com), a card with the letter z for each student; an assessment sheet with pictures of words with the /z/; crayons; a copy of the mini-book Zora, the Zippy Zebra for each student.


1. Introduce the lesson by explaining that when we write words, we are using a secret code.  The letters that we use in writing stand for the sounds that we say.  A person���s mouth moves to make the sound.  Today, we are going to learn a really fun sound.  It is the sound of the letter z like in the word buzz.  Let's say buzz together.  Now, what buzzes?  Bees buzz.  So, each time we hear the /z/ we are going to fly like a bee.  Let's practice.  Listen to this word: buzz.  Did you hear the sound of z?  Ok, this time when I say the word, lets fly.  (Show the students how to flap their arms like wings.)

2.  Look at my chart.  A buzzing bee zoomed around Zora, the zippy zebra.   We have some words with z sounds, and some words that do not have the z sound.  As I read the words, fly like a bee if you hear a z sound.  A buzzing bee zoomed around Zora the zippy zebra.  Now let's say the sentence emphasizing the z sound.  The students repeat the sentence drawing out the /z/.  A buZZing bee Zoomed around Zora, the Zippy Zebra.

3. (Have students take out their primary paper and pencil).  We can use the letter z to spell /z/.  Let's use the one-two-three method to make a z.  One- make the top, two -make the body, and three- make the bottom.  Write a z in the air.  Then demonstrate on the board.  Follow my example.  (Show students how to make the z using the 1-2-3 method.).  Now, everyone needs to make nine more z's on the paper. 

4. Lots of words begin with the letter z, but sometimes the letter z is at the end of the word. You can hear the /z/ when you say the word.  Listen to this word:  lazy  Is the /z/ at the beginning of the word or at the end?  Listen to this word:  zebra.  Is the /z/ at the beginning of the word or at the end? 

5. I am going to read some words.  If the word has a z, hold up the card that has the letter z on it.  If the word does not have a z, do not hold up the z card.  Pronounce the following words one by one.  Students should hold up the z card when they hear the /z/.


6. Read the story, "What begins with Z" from the mini book.   Have students underline the words that have the /s/.  Let the students tell you words that have the /z/.   Put them on the board.  Have each student write a sentence with a word that has a z in it.  Demonstrate for the students.  Zebras live at the zoo.

7. For assessment, give each student a worksheet with pictures of various items.  Tell students to color the pictures of the words that have /z/. 




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