Buzz Like the Bees

Haley Nichols



Rationale: This lesson will help young students identify /z/; the phoneme represented by the letter z.  Children will begin to learn to distinguish /z/ in spoken words by connecting it to the sound of buzzing bees and also recognizing the symbol represented as Z.  Finding /z/ in spoken word will be put into practice using phonemic awareness.


Materials: primary paper, pencils, crayons. The Zim-Zam Man book, word cards, assessment worksheet



1. "Words are made up of letters and sounds, and when we talk our mouth has to move in a special way to form each sound! Today, we're going to learn about the letter Z.  Z makes a /z/ sound. Let's make that /z/ sound together, like we are buzzing bees!

2. "Let's make that /z/ sound together, like we are bees buzzing around the room! Notice the way your mouth is shaped when you make the /z/ sound. When we say /z/, we blow air between our top and bottom teeth with our tongue slightly touching our teeth. 

3. Let me show you how to find /z/ in the word fuzz. I'm going to stretch fuzz out in super slow motion! Listen carefully for my mouth to make the /z/ sound, just like when we were buzzing around the room.  Ff-u-u-z. Slower: Ff-w-u-u-z-z-z. There it was! I felt my tongue slightly touching the back of my teeth while that air was flowing out.

4. Let's try a tongue twister. Let's say it three times together. "Zeke the Zebra ran for the zig-zagged toy in Zambia." Now let's say it again, but this time, stretch the /z/ at the beginning of the words. "Zzzzeke the  Zzzzebra ran for the zzzig-zzzagged toy in Zzzambia." Try it again, and this time break off the word: "/z/ eke the /z/ ebra ran for the /z/ig  /z/agged toy in /z/ ambia."

5. Students should then take out a piece of primary paper and a pencil. "To write the /z/ sound, we use the letter Z. This is what the capital Z looks like, and look, the lowercase z is the very same except smaller. Let's practice writing both of them. The capital Z starts at the rooftop, short line to the right, cross down then line to the right again. The lower case z is very similar except it starts in the middle. After I check your work with the first one, try nine more times so you can become a pro."

6. "Let's listen closely and see what words we hear /z/ in. Do you hear /z/ in zoo or moo? Zipper or button? Lazy or tired? Let's see if you can spot the mouth move /z/ in some words. Get ready to buzz like a bee if you hear /z/! Four, zero, stare, zap, tap, zebra,

7. After the exercise, pull out the book. "Let's look at a book. This is a story about the Zim-Zam Man who can do just about anything! Let's read and find out just what all he can do. There are lots of words in the story that make the /z/ sound. Let's listen closely so we both can hear them" Then read the book, drawing out /z/. Ask students if they can come up with a silly thing the Zim-Zam man can do that has a /z/ in it (ex: /z/ ip nuts in a bag,, /z/ig /z/ag on the rug).

8. Show ZIP and model how to decide if it is zip or tip. "The Z tells me to think and sound like a buzzing bee, making my tongue barely touch the inside of my teeth, so our word is zzzz-ii-ppp. You try some: ZOO: zoo or new? ZIG: zig or big? FIZZ: fizz or bubble? FROZE: froze or chilly?

9. To assess the students, I will use a worksheet. The children will practice writing the letter Z, coloring pictures of /z/ examples.  As the students are working on this, I would call students individually to read the phonemic cue words from step #8.




Sherrel, Heather: Wailing WEEE on a Wild Ride.

Streeter, Niki: What's the Buzz with Z?


Story Book:

Ryan, Cheryl. The Zim-Zam Man, 2007.


Assessment Worksheet:


Click here to return to the Rendezvous index.