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Z Words for Speech Therapy (Word Lists and Activities)

Need z words speech therapy lists? If you’re a speech-language pathologist looking for a quick list of initial z words and final z target words to practice during speech therapy, make sure to bookmark this post. You’ll also find some great ideas for making therapy more fun with a variety of engaging games, resources, and speech therapy activities for teaching the z sound. Not only does this blog post provide a list of initial and final z words, but it also suggests a variety of strategies for teaching correct placement during articulation therapy. SLPs will be able to have a list of words on hand to easily use during a speech therapy session.

z words speech therapy (activities and word lists for articulation)

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Correct Production of Z


The z sound is a lingua-alveolar fricative sound. It is a voiced sound, meaning the vocal cords vibrate. The soft palate is raised during both s and z production. S and z can be made with the “tongue tip up” or the “tongue tip down”.

The lateral sides of the tongue need to be elevated and touch the sides of the upper top teeth (the upper molars). This allows for sagittal grooving of the tongue, which creates a channel to let the airflow pass through. This takes a lot of practice and coordination!

The jaw is in a high position, but it shifts forward slightly during the production of s and z.

The airstream moves forward and out of the mouth, past the front teeth. The airstream continues while the tongue remains in place.

Reference: Peña-Brooks Adriana, and M. N. Hegde. Articulation and Phonological Disorders: Assessment and Treatment Resource Manual. PRO-ED, 2007.

z words speech therapy (word lists for articulation)

Common Z Sound Errors

Z can be a tricky sound! S and z sounds occur in many high-frequency words, so learning to produce these speech sounds correctly is important.

Many children with s and z speech sound errors demonstrate a frontal lisp (also known as an interdental lisp) or a lateral lisp. Utilizing the straw technique can be beneficial for lateral distortions. Read more about the different types of lisps here.

A child with a phonological disorder may exhibit the process of stopping. When this occurs, the passage of air is essentially “stopped” when it should not be. In other words, a stop consonant (such as p, b, t, d, k, or g) replaces a fricative (f, v, th, s, z, sh, zh) or an affricate (ch, dj) . An example of this would be saying “do” for “zoo”. Read about the different types of phonological processes.

How To Teach the Z Sound in Speech Therapy

Here are some tips a speech therapist can use to teach the z sound in speech therapy!

  1. It is a good idea to teach normal resting posture. This is important if your student is demonstrating a lisp. The tip of the tongue (or front part of the tongue) should be resting at the alveolar ridge, the body of the tongue should be lightly suctioned to the roof of the mouth, and the teeth are slightly apart and relaxed (not clenched together). This is how the tongue should be “resting” while not engaging in speaking tasks. Remind your student when it is time to not talk and take a turn at a game, “The tip of your tongue should be a home!”
  2. Shape z from s, and “turn on the voice box”. Try using minimal pairs (for example, “Sue” vs “zoo”).
  3. For younger students, give the z sound a name, such as the “buzzing bee sound”, and pair it with a visual cue.
  4. For phonology students, introduce stopping minimal pairs.
  5. Encourage jaw stability, and keep the jaw in an elevated position.
  6. Keep lips in a retracted position (smile) during the production of z.

Z Word Lists


The following word lists contain z in initial, medial, and final word positions. A speech language pathologist can use these z words during therapy with an articulation student. The lists are provided at the word level. To increase the level of difficulty, your student could create sound-loaded sentences using 3 or more words from the lists provided.

Initial Z Word List for Speech Therapy

Here is a list of z occurring as the initial sound in words (z in the initial positions of words):

  1. zap
  2. zeal
  3. Zeke
  4. zen
  5. zest
  6. Zeus
  7. zing
  8. zone
  9. zoo
  10. zoom
  11. zebra
  12. zero
  13. zipper
  14. zombie
  15. Zachary

Medial Z Words Speech Therapy

Here is a list of z occurring as the medial sound in words (z in the medial positions of words):

  1. visit
  2. puzzle
  3. blizzard
  4. Tuesday
  5. busy
  6. buzzing
  7. cheesy
  8. Thursday
  9. clumsy
  10. cousin
  11. cozy
  12. daisy
  13. desert
  14. freezer
  15. Missouri


Final Z Words Speech Therapy

Here is a list of z occurring at the end of the word (z at the ends of words, final position):

  1. boys
  2. buzz
  3. days
  4. eyes
  5. fries
  6. lies
  7. noise
  8. nose
  9. those
  10. shoes
  11. cookies
  12. babies
  13. glasses
  14. exercise
  15. organize

Top Z Words Speech Therapy Activities

School slps need fun ways to work on this target sound! Here are the top recommended z sound speech therapy activities to try in your speech therapy room. These resources are available on teachers pay teachers as a PDF digital download.

Correct that Lisp Program for SLPs

Speech language pathologists will love how this program systematically takes you through all the steps needed for correcting a lisp! No more frustrating, “what should we work on today?” sessions are necessary. That’s because this program doesn’t skip the foundational skills required for truly making success – orofacial myology basics. This lisp program is also available in the Lisp and Vocalic R Bundle.

lisp speech therapy activity

Alyssa, SLP, reviewed, “I’ve been using this resource for a very long time and have used it on many different age groups. My kids enjoy the activities that are available to work on their frontal and lateral lisps. Thank you for the material!”

Articulation Mouth Cards


Students with articulation disorders benefit from visuals! These articulation cards are unique because they also provide mouth visuals for each targeted speech sound. Your students will enjoy working on target sounds using articulation drill cards in the shape of a mouth! The mouth shape will help remind them of the correct tongue and mouth position for each word. This is a great way to target a variety of articulation sounds, including z!

articulation picture cards for z sound

Articulation Play Dough Manicure Activity

Switch things up in your speech therapy room! Take the “boring” out of articulation drill by creating speech therapy manicures- using play dough! This simple, but brilliant, articulation activity will have your students pumped to work on their target speech sounds! Two levels are included- picture-supported and text-only- so you’ll be able to use this fun articulation activity with your entire speech therapy caseload! Your student practices saying a target word, then smashes play dough onto a nail! The manicure is completed when all target words have been practiced.

z words activity for speech therapy

Articulation Tic Tac Toe

Have fun in speech! Instead of playing the traditional version of tic tac toe, play the magnetic wand and chip version! Or, use bingo daubers while you play! This articulation tic tac toe resource targets a variety of speech sounds, including z, s blends, s, vocalic r, k and g, and more! Each target sound presents 9 words, with mixed positions (initial, medial, and final positions).

More Articulation Word Lists for Speech Language Pathologists

In a hurry and need a quick summary of this article? Scroll up to see z words speech therapy lists. Then, try out these best-selling articulation worksheets and activities to work on the z sound:

  1. Correct that Lisp Program (or Lisp and R Bundle)
  2. Articulation Mouth Cards
  3. Articulation Manicure
  4. Articulation Tic Tac Toe

Don’t miss these other articulation word lists!

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