Initial /k/ Aspiration Trick – Free Worksheets

“Tan I have a tup?”, “I want some tandy?”, “Tome here.”

Sound familiar???

This is called “velar fronting”.  These errors occur when a child substitutes a sound produced in the back of the mouth (k/g) with a sound produced in the front of the mouth (t/d).

This is a very common problem that is treated extremely often by speech therapists.  In order to treat this problem, the first step is to help the child produce the “back sounds”
(k/g) in isolation (all by themselves).  However, this is not all that is necessary to treat the problem.  The next step is helping the child produce the sound in words.  It is often the case that a child can easily learn how to say the /k/ sound – but has difficulty transitioning that sound into words.  This is more due to habit than anything else.  And even when they demonstrate the ability to say the /k/ sound, they often just add a /k/ to the beginning of words – but keep the fronted sound in the word as well.  This sounds like “ccctan”, “ccctandy”, “ccctome”.  Sound familiar again???   These kids can learn the new sound, but have trouble getting rid of the old sound (t/d).  And just when you think they have finally got it … you hear that little /t/ slip in right after the /k/.  Frustrating I know.

I have dealt with this many times and was so grateful when I stumbled upon Caroline Bowen’s aspiration trick.  This trick is invaluable for helping children transition the /k/ sound into the beginning of words (without them slipping in the fronted sounds out of habit).

I have taken some of the words provided by Caroline and have added many more for you to practice.  You can find the free worksheets I put together here.

I usually practice the worksheets in four steps:

1. The first step consists of separating the /k/ from the initial /h/ word (ex. /k/…/hat/).

2. The next step consists of me gradually bring the two targets together (ex. /khhhhat/).

3.  During the third step I shorten the transition between the two targets (ex. /khat/).

4.  Finally, during the fourth step I have the child practice the initial /k/ words without adding any aspiration (ex. /kat/ or “cat”).

I only move the child to the next step when they are ready.  If the child begins inserting the fronted sound (ex. “tat” or “ctat” for “cat”) I just move the child back a step and continue practicing.

Therapy usually works best if you are flexible and able to move through the steps easily.  It is okay to go up and down the steps throughout the session, and is a much better idea than allowing the child to practice a higher step with mistakes.  Remember that errorless learning is very important so don’t stay at a higher level if the child is creating errors.

Good luck and enjoy the free worksheets.


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Comments ( 13 )

  • Oh my goodness! I can’t wait to try this trick with some of my phonological kiddos! I’ve found that, even more difficult than eliminating the fronted sound from between /k/ and the vowel is difficulty with voicing! (I see at least 3 kids who can not produce initial /g/, but voice almost all initial /k/ words!) Thank you, thank you, than you!

    • You are so right – and so smart. I have used the aspiration trick for pretty much all types of phonological patterns (I just haven’t made up worksheets for them all yet – but I plan to do so in the future). I use it for stopping, fronting, backing, voicing, liquid gliding, etc. The trick works the best if you have a kiddo that can produce a certain sound in isolation but has difficulty inserting the sound into words (especially in the initial position). Good luck!!!

  • I’ve got a few to try this with…thank you!

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  • Thank you so much! This is super helpful and I can’t wait to try this on some of my kids!

  • Thank you! Thank you! My son is now producing k and adding it to end of k words and even a couple middle, but has already used t for initial k… very hard to break this pattern. These are terrific!

  • Thank you so much! I can’t wait to try this with my students.

  • Thanks for this! I was wondering if you would mind if i posted this blog on my website and facebook page? ? I recently launched an app targeting “k” words in a interactive story book app format – it’s called “Katie’s Missing Laugh” and your blog is a great explanation of fronting and how to go about correcting it. I would of course site you as the author and link back to your site too.

  • Thank you for the information. As a mother with a child that has these issues, this is really helpful. One quick question on the worksheets, it looks like the person is covering their mouth with a tissue or something when making the “k” sound. What is that supposed to represent? Thank you again!


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