The last three letters of the English language are also some of the rarest. X words for kids can be enough of a challenge, but adding Y and Z can be even trickier. Check out several lists of X, Y and Z words for kids of all levels, along with helpful letter activities and printables.
In some ways, our three tricky letters are the easiest to teach your youngest learners. Rather than having to worry about their written frequency, you can introduce them to the sounds the letters make and help them make the all-important connection to the shape of the letters on the page. Add these X words for kids in preschool and kindergarten, as well as Z and Y words for kids.
- X-ray: Medical procedure that lets doctors see bones, and the kind of energy used for that procedure
- Yak: Furry, four-footed beast of burden from Asia
- Yet: So far, up to this time
- Yam: Orange sweet potato
- Yarn: Strand of thread used for knitting, sewing, and weaving
- Yawn: Long, open-mouthed breath, often taken when someone is tired
- Year: 365 days, the time it takes the Earth to go around the sun
- Yell: To speak out loudly, especially when it's unwelcome
- Yellow: Color of the sun or a banana
- Yes: Affirmative, a statement indicating you agree
- Yip: A bark made by a small dog
- You: The second person, someone being spoken to
- Zany: Crazy, silly
- Zap: To hit with energy
- Zero: Number representing nothing, no amount
- Zip: To pull up a zipper
- Zoo: Place where people can go to see wild animals
- Zoom: To move quickly
With pre-literate learners in preschool and kindergarten, X, Y and Z are just sounds like all the other letters. Help them make the connection between those sounds and written text with our three-page letter tracing activity on X words, Y words and Z words for kids.
How well do your preschoolers and kindergartners know common X words for kids? What about Y and Z words? Try out a matching activity in which learners draw a line between an image and the X, Y or Z word it represents.
Xyz words for kids matching activityClick to View & Download
As your students start to read, X, Y and Z become trickier. That makes working with vocabulary especially important. Help your students get their heads around these unusual words and they'll have the confidence to take on more complex words as they progress through school.
- Xmas: Short form of "Christmas"
- Yammer: Fast, uninteresting talk
- Yank: To pull sharply or tug
- Yard: The back area of a house, or a measurement of approximately 3 feet
- Yeah: A casual response that means "yes"
- Yelp: Short, sharp shout
- Yen: Japanese money
- Yield: To surrender or give way
- Yonder: At a distance, away
- Yowl: Loud, high-pitched yell, like an angry cat
- Young: Early age, not old
- Yummy: Tasty, good to eat
- Yurt: A circular tent
- Zany: Something funny or silly
- Zeal: Excitement, motivation for a cause or idea
- Zebra: Black and white striped horse from Africa
- Zilch: Zero, nothing
- Zigzag: To move back and forth sharply
- Zillion: Informal word for a large number
- Zing: Energy, excitement
- Zipper: Connector linking two lines of metal teeth, often found on clothes
- Ziti: Tube-shaped pasta
- Zone: Area, or a particular place
We've deliberately chosen words that either summon up a vivid image, like yak, zebra and zipper, or can be used as the basis of high-energy games, like yowl, zilch and zone. If you can get your students physically engaged with letter Y and letter Z activities built around these words, you'll be sure they've learned them.
As with first grade, physical activities play an important role in helping second graders with their vocabulary. Give them an opportunity to run in a zigzag or shamble around like zombies. Build some letter Y activities around yank or yelp (we apologize to your eardrums for the second one) and you'll guarantee their intuitive grasp of the words.
As of fourth grade, students are likely reading more actively and engaging with text. This opens up new avenues of learning, even with some of the rarest letters in English. Check out these different opportunities to expand learners' vocabulary at the end of the alphabet.
- Xi: 14th letter of the Greek alphabet
- Xia: Old word for the country of China
- Xenon: Inert gas commonly used in so-called "neon" lights, number 54 on the periodic table
- Xenophobic: Frightened of or bigoted against foreigners
- Xerox: term for a copy machine based on the Xerox brand
- Xylophone: Percussion instrument played by striking mallets against tuned pieces of wood
- Yacht: A fancy, expensive boat used for pleasure cruises
- Yearn: To want something very badly
- Yeast: Fungus used to ferment sugar in the baking process
- Yeoman: A hardworking person; someone who owns a farm
- Yield: Give up, surrender
- Yip: Sharp, high-pitched sound made by an animal, often a dog
- Yoga: Exercise and meditation that focuses on flexibility
- Yogi: Someone who teaches yoga
- Yogurt: Dairy dish made from fermented milk
- Yucca: An evergreen plant found in the chaparral biome
- Zapper: Something that zaps; informal word for a device that delivers electric signals or shocks
- Zealot: Fanatic, someone with excessive zeal
- Zephyr: A gentle breeze
- Zeppelin: Big blimp
- Zesty: Flavorful, enjoyable
- Zine: Self-published magazine
- Zinger: A clever insult or comeback
- Zinnia: Garden flower
- Zombie: Walking dead person
- Zucchini: Oblong green squash
Our fourth grade words are designed to spark discussion. Zapper is a chance to talk about formal versus informal language. Zealot is a perfect way to explore the idea of connotations: zeal is often a positive quality, but zealot is almost never a compliment. At this level of learning, words should encourage students to indulge their curiosity and read more widely.
Rare letters lead to rare learning opportunities. Words that start with X, Y and Z can make for challenging teaching topics, especially at younger ages, but they also open up the more obscure corners of the English language. It may be hard to believe, but there are even more X, Y and Z words out there! Check out WordFinder's list of words that start with X and list of words that start with Y to find the right fit for your vocabulary list. Then move on to their list of words that start with Z to keep the instruction going!
Teach students to love the "treasure hunt" aspect of learning odd and unknown words, and you'll have given them reason to love language for the rest of their lives. If you've started at the end of the alphabet rather than the beginning, it's a good time to move on to A words for kids.