Tongue Tip Trouble- Fronting /t/ for /k/

Picture Cards Final KHow can you quickly solve the fronting of /k/?  Tackle the tongue tip!  Getting /k/ in isolation is easily achieved by keeping the child’s tongue tip from making contact with the alveolar ridge or teeth.  Some ideas for doing this include:

• Use a tongue depressor to gently hold the tongue tip down while the child produces the /k/ sound.
• Use a lollipop to gently hold the tongue tip down.
• Have the child hold his tongue tip down with a clean finger.

We’ve got /k/, now what?

Once you’ve got /k/ in isolation, I find it easiest to work on /k/ in the final position, starting with the next smallest unit of production – syllables.  I work through each vowel sound with visual cueing for the /k/ sound.  Allow the child to put a pause in between the vowel and /k/ at first if necessary.  Print out this page of k final syllables and trace the dashes with your finger or a marker while the child produces the sounds.  If you laminate the page, you can use a dry erase marker to draw a line between the vowel and /k/ and then erase it and use it again.

Ready for words

Once the child is successful at the syllable level, move to short words like those in my k final picture cards.  Go through them so the child knows what each picture represents and practice them one at a time, cueing as necessary.


For practice and repetition, print out a second set of cards and play games such as “Go Fish” or “Memory” with them.  Or, clip a paper clip to the pictures and give the child a magnetic fishing pole and have him “catch” each word and say it.

Moving on

Once the child is producing /k/ words successfully, move to short phrases and sentences.  Play with nursery rhymes that are /k/ loaded, such as “Hickory Dickory Dock”.  Have the child help make up stories with /k/ words, write them down and send them home for practice.


Once again, here are the links to the free printables included in this post.  Print them out and enjoy them!  Let your friends know about them too!

k final syllables

k final picture cards

21 Responses to “Tongue Tip Trouble- Fronting /t/ for /k/”

  1. Esther May 11, 2009 at 11:27 pm #

    I am not a speech therapist but a homeschooling mom who has a passion to help other children with their reading and speech. Thank you so much for this lovely site. It has helped me tremendously with a friends daughter.
    How can I help this little girl say TR instead of CH eg train is pronounced as chrain.
    Thank you very much and looking forward hearing from you.

  2. Stephanie October 26, 2009 at 12:56 pm #

    I have two children (siblings) who front for all their velars. I’ve tried the depressor idea, and they simply pull their tongue back and over the depressor to touch their teeth. I’m afraid that if I put it any further back I’ll initiate the gag reflex! I’ve tried having them “feel” the sound, after modeling and having them feel my throat when I produce the sound. I have also told them to keep their mouth open and touch the back of their mouth with the back of their tongue. They just can’t seem to get that position! Any other ideas?! I’m at a loss, and I’ve talked with other SLPs who don’t have much else to suggest.

  3. Stephanie October 26, 2009 at 12:56 pm #

    haha, and by children I mean clients!

  4. Susan November 8, 2009 at 1:13 pm #

    I am an SLP in the school system. Something else you might try is having the child look up toward the ceiling and say the /k/ in isolation. Since /k/ is a back sound, the tongue naturally goes back when looking up. This will help the child with placement, later have him look at you and make the same sound. Usually this works. Be patient! Keep trying.

  5. Cheryl December 14, 2009 at 8:02 pm #

    I have been successful in decreasing fronting behaviors by having the child open their mouth wide and working from K sound combined with low vowels, progressing to high vowels word attempts. The gravity trick does really work, I have tried it with a recliner in the child’s home. A small piece of candy held in place under the truck has proven to be somewhat successful for K sound production.

  6. Blair February 3, 2010 at 8:33 pm #

    I also use the “open mouth wide” technique and it has worked well.

  7. `Micki February 24, 2010 at 3:13 pm #

    I have been working with a student with the same problem. I was able to get her to say a correct /k/ sound when she said words such as cute, curious, cube, etc. Now she is able to say /k/ in the final position, but is still having difficulty with initial /k/. She can hold her tongue down and say the /k/ correctly, but her response is not automatic.

  8. Gail Kainen March 23, 2010 at 7:17 pm #

    Do you work on words , phrases, sentences in the initial position, then procede to final, medial etc. rather than words, phrases, then sentences in all positions?

  9. BeckyWanca March 23, 2010 at 7:24 pm #

    It depends on the child. Once the productions are consistently correct at the word level and we are working at the phrase or sentence level in one position, I’ll check for stimulability in the other positions. Sometimes the carry over to different positions is easy and we can jump pretty quickly to sentences in all positions. Sometimes it is too confusing for the child so I’ll stick with one position until it is really solid and then start on the next.

  10. Sue June 10, 2011 at 1:19 am #

    I wish things had worked out differently. My youngest could have benefited from your knowledge of speech therapy.

  11. Donna Boyer November 14, 2011 at 6:05 pm #

    /k/is easy to get, it’s the /g/ that is the challenge.

  12. Amy Deas November 17, 2011 at 2:26 pm #

    I have one who has just started working on /g/, and he is devoicing it. Help?

  13. Amy November 20, 2011 at 3:11 pm #

    My issue is that the child does not elevate the back of the tongue period. With the tongue tip down, it’s more of a breathy sound as he is not stopping it anywhere. Any tips for getting the back of the tongue elevated? I’ve tried the gravity, tongue depressor, etc.

  14. Kathy March 30, 2012 at 12:43 pm #

    I have had success with having students working on the /k/ getting on the floor on their back and producing the sound…gravity helps the tongue get in the correct position and helps them see how it feels…especially at the beginning …Kathy

  15. Rachel April 10, 2012 at 6:05 pm #

    There are lots of different ways to elicit /k/. I have had some success with eliciting it from ‘ng’ as in the end of the word ‘sing’. Get the child to make the sound long and then elicit the /k/. The tongue is already in the position for /k/. You could use the gravity idea alongside to stop the tongue coming forward as well.

  16. Trisha C. November 2, 2012 at 3:31 pm #

    I have a student with frontalization of the /k,g/ phonemes. I have tried everything and nothing seems to work. I have tried:
    1. using a large mouth puppet with a sock for a tongue to show placement
    2. mirror
    3. laying down
    4. gargling
    5. tongue depressor to prevent tongue tip from elevating
    6. starting with the /ng/ (but he also frontalizes it, using an n/ng substitution)
    7. /kl-/ blends (because it’s impossible to say, /tl-/ )… but it doesn’t transfer

    What else is there to try??

  17. BeckyWanca November 7, 2012 at 6:43 pm #

    Wow! You really have tried about everything. I can’t think of anything else off the top of my head, but maybe some of our other members can help. Anyone else have any ideas for Trisha?

  18. april krenn November 27, 2012 at 10:56 pm #

    Becky-I have a boy I’m working with and have tried about everything too! He does like the flavored tongue depressors and we talk about putting his tongue “under the shelf”..I put the tongue depressor horizontally in his mouth and he has to put his tongue under the tongue depressor and push against his bottom teeth with the tongue tip. We do a lot of these tongue push exercises to reinforce. His best word is the word “Key” which is helpful for middle position (donkey, hockey, etc). Good luck!

  19. Holly Puckering April 18, 2013 at 5:31 am #

    For the really difficult ‘fronters’, can I suggest examining for a posterior/submucosal tongue tie? I work in an ankyloglossia clinic and we have many children who have been through years of therapy with similar difficulty in achieving backed sounds. Almost all of them turned out to have PTT.
    Thankyou so much for having such a generous heart and sharing your resources :)

  20. Brenda April 25, 2013 at 3:39 pm #

    Thank goodness this is here! So many helpful tips. I am an SLP working in an outpatient hospital setting, I see mostly adults and they are a breeze for me… Whenever a kiddo comes in I have to go back to the textbooks. Thank you all! I feel much more prepared for my little guy coming in this evening!

  21. Margaret January 28, 2014 at 10:51 pm #

    Have you already worked on auditory skills?
    Auditory bombardment of target sounds in the initial and final positions supported with pictures and print.
    You can use a train to represent beginning and ending sounds. Say words and have student Listen Only and identify where they hear the /k/ sound at the beginning of the word (the engine), or at the end of the word (the caboose).
    I realize these are not exactly production suggestions, but I find that practice with listening activities also helps with production.

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