Let’s Take a Giant Step Back! Eliciting the K Sound

Use a physioball to elicit the K and G sound.

Eliciting the K sound can be fun and easy!

When you talk to a “front-er” it seems so pervasive.  But what makes it fun is that once you get back sounds going there is a dramatic improvement in how they sound!

This is the trick that I’ve had a lot of success with during my therapy sessions.

***Before you start, be sure your student has no physical limitations that would make these movements inappropriate.  Also, children should be supervised at all times and you need to keep constant contact for safety!


Large physioball

To elicit:

A child and pediatric speech-language pathologist getting ready to elicit the K sound.
  1.  I sit the child on the ball and gently bounce them so they feel comfortable.  I’ll have them open their mouth wide and ask them to imitate either /k/ or /g/.  (Current best practices suggest focusing on voiced targets.  For this, I’m not choosy.  Anything in the back is great.)  We might even do a pretend cough or two.
Laying back on a physioball can help elicit the K sound.
  1. I slowly lay them back on the ball so their head is slightly below their chest.  Some kiddos need easing into this position; many don’t mind at all.
  2.  Again, I have them open wide, keep it open, and have them imitate /k/, /g/ or a coughing type sound.
  3. I move the child back into a sitting position, still on the ball, and bounce them gently while I model /k, k, k, k/ or /g, g, g, g/ and encourage them to imitate.  Even just hanging their mouth open and vocalizing a back vowel is ok.
  4. Then we repeat.  We almost always get at least a couple /k/ or /g/ sounds on the first day, certainly on the second.

Laying back (extended back) helps to elicit the K sound because it gets you closer to the correct tongue position than simply lying on the floor would.  Also, by following up with bouncing, which also seems to encourage back rather than front sounds, we get immediate carry-over in a more natural position.

Getting a back sound is one of the few times in which I really strive to get at least an approximation in isolation before moving on to words.  But even here, I’ll move onto words as quickly as I can.  My favorite word is “Go!” because it’s easy and it has major impact.  We’ll set up a marble run (one of my favorite speech activities) and won’t release a marble until we can tell it to go.

I’m at a distinct advantage because my name is Kim and I can use it as a minimal pair.  I always ask front-ers to refer to me as “Miss Kim” rather than Mrs. Lewis.  I have a very sad face I use when they call me “Miss Tim.”

“Oh, I’m not a boy.  Tim is a boy name.  I’m Miss Kim.”

As I choose other targets, I avoid words that include either /t/ or /d/ for quite a while.  If I feel like we are ready to make things a little more tricky, I’m apt to start including /l/ (i.e. “lick” “luck” “log” “goal”) first.

For kiddos really struggling to move to single words, sounds that include two back sounds, like “kick” or “cookie” can help.  Kicking a ball is a motivating speech activity for my little ones!

Looking for activities to support the phonological process of fronting? Try Playtime for K and G! Or try my Coloring Worksheets and Rock Paper Scissors game.  Both of these have picture prompts and are perfect for little people.

Let me know if this technique works for you or if you have something else we should try to elicit the K sound!



The views expressed in this blog are my own and are intended to inspire other speech-language pathologists in their own practice. If you are a parent, teacher or other educator, these ideas are not intended to take the place of treatment by a certified clinician. Read full disclaimer here.