If you’re a speech-language pathologist looking for a quick list of initial and final k target words to practice during therapy, this post is a great place to start! 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 k sound. Not only does this blog post provide a list of initial and final k words, it also suggests a variety of strategies for teaching correct placement.
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Correct Production of K
The k sound is a voiceless, lingua-velar sound. The front of the tongue (the tongue tip) is placed behind the front lower teeth. The back of the tongue is lifted, or raised, during k production. It makes contact with the soft palate. This forms a seal. Air pressure builds up behind the tongue. When the soft palate seal breaks, we hear an explosion of air as it is released into the oral cavity.
Common K Sound Errors
Sometimes, students with articulation disorders or phonological disorders have difficulty producing the k sound. They often exhibit t/k substitution. Phonological processes, such as velar fronting or final consonant deletion, may also impact velar consonants. K speech sound errors do not just occur in the initial position, medial position, or final position of words. The k sound also frequently occurs in initial consonant clusters (such as kw, kl, kr) and final clusters (ks, kt, lk, sk, rk). Word final consonant clusters are important due to morphology, as well. They are often used to mark grammatical endings, such as plurals, past tense, and possessives. K speech sound errors can greatly impact a child’s speech.
What is Velar Fronting?
Velar fronting occurs when a sound that should be made in the back of the mouth (a velar sound, like k or g sounds) is made in the front of the mouth instead. This is like saying “tea” for “key” or “doe” for “go”. Check out these minimal pairs for velar fronting.
What is Final Consonant Deletion?
Final consonant deletion is a speech pattern simplification in which a child may omit, or leave off, the ending sound in a word. Phonology students who demonstrate FCD of the final k sound might say “bay” for “bake”.
How to Teach the K Sound in Speech Therapy
Articulation Tools for Teaching the K Sound
There are a few tools a speech therapist may like to have on hand when teaching the k sound to young children in speech and language therapy. Typically, these tools include a typodont, a mirror, and a tongue depressor.
Strategies for Teaching the K Sound in Speech Therapy
I usually start by teaching the k sound in isolation before moving on to the word level.
I use simple, child-friendly wording to explain the correct position of the tongue. The first thing I do is show my student a typodont. I point to the area behind the lower front teeth and explain that this is where the tongue tip needs to touch. You can use your arched hand as a great way to visualize the tongue’s positioning. My fingers are the tongue tip, and my wrist is the “raised part” of the back of the tongue. A simple visual is often best!
More Articulation Strategies for K
If your student is making slow progress, try switching things up. You could use minimal pairs for fronting. You could also change how you are wording things or change the name of the sound. I sometimes call the k sound “the low t sound” to my students.
I have to give frequent reminders to my student to keep the tongue tip down. Often, my student will lift the tongue tip up towards the alveolar ridge during a t for k substitution. Simple reminders such as, “Uh oh! Your tongue went up!” paired with a hand motion are often helpful.
Once the child’s tongue is in the correct placement, I model the k sound.
Velar sounds can initially be quite challenging. It takes lots of practice!
After my speech student can say k in isolation, I try to have my students pair it with back vowels. Examples of back vowels are /u/ as in coo, or /ʊ/ as in cookie.
Then, I often practice k in the final position of words.
Speech Practice Ideas for the K Sound
Speech students love to play games and do hands-on activities! I frequently pair a dot marker with an articulation worksheet as we practice specific sounds. We love playing articulation tic tac toe. You could also hide articulation picture cards in sensory bins, or pull them out of fun containers or objects (think Ned’s Head!). An additional engaging way to practice the k sound is to create the letter K out of WikkiStix or play dough! Finally, another fun game idea is a k sound scavenger hunt.
Speech Sound Word Lists for the K Sound
The following word lists contain words with the initial k sound, medial k sound, final k sound, and k in consonant clusters (both initial and final position). These articulation word lists allow the SLP to easily work on a target sound in speech therapy. Quickly pull these word lists up during your speech therapy session and pair them with the game or activity of your choice.
Initial K Word List for Speech Therapy
Here is a list of initial k words to use in speech therapy:
Medial K Word List for Speech Therapy
Here is a list of medial k words to use in speech therapy:
Final K Word List for Speech Therapy
Here is a list of final k words to use in speech therapy:
Initial Consonant Clusters with K Word List for Speech Therapy
Here is a list of initial consonant cluster K words to use in speech therapy:
Final Consonant Clusters with K Word List for Speech Therapy
Here is a list of word-final clusters with the k sound for speech therapy (including /ks/, /kt/, /sk/, /sks/, and /rk/):
Initial K and Final K Picture Cards for Speech Therapy
These picture cards are perfect to use in speech therapy while working on the k sound! If your student has an articulation disorder, you will enjoy how these picture cards contain mouth visuals. They also provide appropriate homework for articulation as well.
Send them home, or use them during a speech and language therapy session. To assemble, you will simply print, laminate, and cut out the picture cards. After that, you can hole punch and attach them together using a binder ring for easy storage. These picture cards contain mouth visuals, initial k words, and final k words.