Buzz with Bees using Z's




Emergent Literacy Design

Rachel Greer


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 (buzzing like a bee) 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.



--picture of bumblebee and /z/

--poster or paper with tongue twister "Zigmund Zane zig-zagged through the zany zoo zone"

--primary paper (enough for each student)

--pencils (enough for each student)

--individual flashcards with pictures of: zebra, zipper, maze, wizard, zoo

--individual flashcards with words in all capital letters: ZAG, ZERO, BOOM, NED, ZANY

--worksheet containing pictures containing /z/ and one without (enough for each student)



1. Say, "Today we are going to learn about the letter 'z' and the sound it makes, /z/.  To me, /z/ sounds a bit like the sound a bumblebee makes /z/z/z/z/ when it is buzzing (pantomime a buzzing bumblebee). When we say /z/, the tip of our tongues touch above the tops of our teeth.  From now on, every time we hear /z/ or see a z, we will be bumblebees."


2. Say, "I'm going to show you how to find /z/ in some different words. Listen while I stretch out the word crazy. C-r-a-z-y. Slower: cc-rr-aa-zz-yy.  Did everyone hear the bumblebee buzz in crazy? It was towards the end.  What about in the word buzz? B-u-zz. Slower: bb-uu-zz.  Way to go! It was at the very end."


3. Say: "Now let us try a tongue twister: (display on paper or poster) Zigmund Zane zig-zagged through the zany zoo zone.  Let's practice saying that together while we buzz like bumblebees when we hear /z/. (say it once).  Now let's say again, this time stretching the z's at the beginning of each word. Zzz-igmund Zzz-ane zzz-ig-zzz-agged through the zzz-any zzz-oo zzz-one.  This time, let's say it with a pause between each /z/ sound and the rest of the word. /z/  igmund /z/  ane /z/  ig-/z/  agged through the /z/  any /z/  oo /z/  one."


4. Say: ''Let's practice writing the letter Z to spell /z/.  (Give every student primary paper and a pencil).  Capital Z and lowercase z look the same, but capital Z is just a little bigger than lowercase z.  Let's write the capital Z first.  Start on the rooftop and make a short straight line.  Next, draw a line through the fence to the sidewalk like you are going to make the number 7.  Now, keep your pencil down and draw a short straight line on sidewalk.  I want to see everyone's capital Z's.  Then, you can make ten more. Now, let's practice the lowercase z.  Start on the fence this time, and make a small straight line.  Draw a line to the sidewalk like you are going to make a 7.  From the end of the 7, draw a straight line on the sidewalk.  Now you've made a lowercase z!  Practice those on your paper and I will come around and check them.''


5. Say: ''In the next activity, I am going to show you some pictures.  The things in the pictures contain Z's that make the sound /z/.  I want you to show me how you can make the /z/ sound when you say the word.  I'll do one first to show you.  (Show picture of a zebra.) This is a zzzzz-ebra.  Now it's your turn.''  (Show students pictures of a zipper, a maze, a wizard, and a zoo, and have them say the appropriate name for each picture with emphasis on the letter Z).


6. Say: "Each of you are doing an excellent job of hearing the sound /z/, so I am going to say a few words and you can tell me which ones contain the bumblebee buzz: do you hear /z/ in zap or map? Zip or lip? Zone or phone?"


7. Say: "I am going to say a sentence and I want to see your bumblebees each time I say/z/. Zachary's zebra Zoe has zero fuzzy zippers."


8. Say: ''Now, I am going to show you some flashcards with a word on it, like this one.  (Show ZAG.)  I will give you two words and say, 'Is this word zag or rag?'  (Model I will decide whether the word is zag or rag.)  The Z tells me to buzz like a bumblebee, /z/.  So, this word has to be zzzzz-ag. Zag.  It's your turn to try: ZERO: Is this hero or zero?  BOOM: zoom or boom?  NED: ned or zed?  ZANY: brainy or zany?"



As an individual assessment, provide a worksheet with pictures of both words containing the /z/ sound and others that do not.  Have students color the pictures that do contain the /z/ sound and 'x' out the pictures that do not.  Take up papers to see who did and did not comprehend the lesson.



Murray, Bruce. (2008). Brush Your Teeth with F.


Terry, Meg. (2009). Zipping Up Z!


The Teachers' Desk. (1997).






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