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Teaching the Letter Z Phonics Sound


The letter Z makes a /z/ sound, similar to a buzzing sound. Say "ZZZ". It is a voiced consonant sound because it recruits the vocal cords to make the sound - it is made by the vibrations in the vocal cords. If you compare the /z/ sound to the /s/ sound - both take the same mouth position - you'll find that the /s/ sound is unvoiced, where it is very much a hissing type of sound with no sound made by your throat. The /z/ sound is a buzzing type of sound, coming from the throat.

Try it: put your fingers on your throat and...

What do you notice when you make the /s/ sound? How about the /z/ sound?

That's correct, you don't feel any vibration around your throat area when you make the /s/ sound, but a lot of vibration when making the /z/ sound. This is the major difference between voiced and unvoiced sounds.

Z is a voiced sound, and here are some example words:

BUZZ - /b/ /u/ /z/

ZAP - /z/ /a/ /p/

Learning Activity for /z/

  1. Show the letter Z to your child and demonstrate how to make the proper /z/ consonant sound
  2. Let your child practice making the /z/ sound
  3. Read the above Z words with some emphasis placed on the /z/ sound in each word
  4. Phoneme identification activity: ask your child to identify all the /z/ sounds in each of the above words.
  5. Phoneme substitution:
    1. Replace the /a/ sound in ZAP with the /i/ sound, and what does it become? (ZIP)
    2. Now what if we replaced the /b/ sound in BUZZ with the /F/ sound? (FUZZ)
  6. Phoneme addition and deletion:
    1. If we add the /m/ sound to the end of ZOO, what word is it now? (ZOOM)
    2. If we remove the /er/ sound in BUZZER, what word does it become? (BUZZ)
  7. Work on the letter Z worksheet provided below.
  8. Pop quiz: point to letter Z and ask "what sound does this make?"

Letter Z Worksheets