Zippy’s Friends

An Overview

Zippy’s Friends is a school-based program for five to seven year olds, developed by the Partnership for Children in the United Kingdom ( and is currently operating in over 28 countries. The Center for Autism and Early Childhood Mental Health at Montclair State University is the sole licensed provider of Zippy’s Friends in the United States, and provides the training and consultation to school districts implementing the curriculum. The curriculum, involving 24 modules organized into 6 themes, is designed to help children develop coping and social skills. The modules are built around a set of stories involving “Zippy”, a stick insect, and his friends. It is taught by trained classroom teachers or other appropriate educators. Each educator receives a full packet with complete materials necessary to teach the program, including detailed lesson plans, colorful pictures and cards, and parent/family materials. While it has relevance to children with behavioral and emotional difficulties, the program was designed from the outset to be suitable for use with all children, and most classes are in typical school settings, as part of efforts not to address problems but to promote health.

Evidence-based practice

Three international studies have confirmed the remarkable benefits of the curriculum, which has been endorsed by the World Health Organization (WHO), and in 2011, the curriculum was accepted for review by the US Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) for inclusion in the National Registry for Evidence Based Programs and Practices (NREPP). In an earlier survey by the Partnership for Children of more than 300 teachers in 6 countries who had taught the program, aside from the clear benefits to the children, 89% felt that they had become better teachers! In New Jersey since 2007, 75 educators in 12 schools and programs have been trained in Zippy’s Friends and approximately 4,600 children have received the curriculum to universal praise among children, educators and parents!


Each school or program that sends educators to the training is expected to:

  • Arrange to have the designated staff person(s) attend the 2-day training program
  • Permit the Montclair State University trainers to visit each teacher/educator at least once to monitor the delivery of the curriculum
  • Ensure the delivery of the complete curriculum, 24 sessions (usually weekly for 45 minutes)
  • Participate in 1-2 follow-up/support meetings with the Montclair State trainers
  • Participate in an evaluation of the program with Montclair State University. This may involve classroom observation, administration of written or oral surveys to educators and children, and contact with parents/families.

For further information on how you can be trained, please contact:

Gerard Costa, PhD, Director

Zippy’s Friends is made possible by the generous support of the
Todd Ouida Children’s Foundation

Information about the Todd Ouida Children’s Foundation
and a video about the Zippy’s Friends program in a New Jersey school can be viewed at