Speech-language Newsletter: October

Articulation: /k/ and /g/ sounds

What is an Articulation Disorder? By Julie A. Daymut, M.A., CCC-SLP Super Duper Handouts

Speech sound production is a complex process that involves precise planning, coordination, and movement of different articulators (such as the jaw, lips, teeth, tongue, palate, cheeks, and “voice box”). Correct articulation produces clear speech. Another name for clear speech is intelligibility. Errors in speech sound production are known as articulation errors. Articulation errors are common in children when they first learn to speak.

An example of this is a toddler who says “wabbit” for “rabbit.” Most children eventually outgrow such speech errors, which are a normal part of learning to produce new sounds. (Note: Regional dialects, such as a “Boston /r/”, are not articulation errors.) When a child demonstrates articulation errors beyond those of typical development, he/she may need to see a speech-language pathologist (SLP). The SLP evaluates the type of error(s) the child is making and may develop an intervention or therapy plan. In speech/language sessions, the SLP teaches the child how to make the sound. He/she shows the child how to move the articulators, what type of sound it is (a “whistly” sound versus a “stop” sound, for example), and whether to turn voice on or off.

A child can make the following articulation errors when producing speech sounds: Substitutions, Omissions, Distortions, and/or Additions. An easy way to remember these is to use the acronym SODA!

S – Substitutions Definition: Replace one sound with another sound. Examples: “wed” for “red,” “thoap” for “soap,” “dut,” for “duck”

O – Omissions (also known as deletions) Definition: Omit a sound in a word. Note: This error affects intelligibility the most, making speech more difficult for the listener(s) to understand. Examples: “p ay the piano” for “play the piano”, “g een nake” for “green snake”

D – Distortions Definition: Produce a sound in an unfamiliar manner. Examples: “pencil” (nasalized—sounds more like an “m”) for “pencil,” “sun” (lisped—sounds “slushy”) for “sun”

A – Additions Definition: Insert an extra sound within a word. Examples: “buhlack horse” for “black horse,” “doguh,” for “dog”

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What causes articulation disorders?

For most children, the cause of the speech sound disorder in unknown. Other speech sound disorders can be linked to things such as a cleft palate, problems with the teeth, hearing loss, or difficulty controlling the movements of the mouth. Neurological disorders that can affect articulation include cerebral palsy.

  • Oral Apraxia: Difficulty making voluntary movements of the tongue and lips or with combining movements including those needed to make speech sounds. As a result, speech may be difficult to produce or have many inconsistent articulation errors.
  • Dysarthria: Paralysis, weakness or generally poor coordination of the muscles of the mouth. This can make speech slow, inaccurate, slurred, and/or hypernasal (when too much sound comes through the nose).
Speech therapy targeting k and g sounds

By Kindergarten:

The speech-language pathologist should consider a speech sound error to be a problem when the error persists one year beyond the chronological age when 90% of the students sampled have typically acquired that sound. According to School District of Cheltenham Township criteria, kindergarten students should be able to produce the following sounds:

  • all vowels, /p/, /m/, /h/, /n/, /w/, /b/, /k/, /g/, /d/, /f/, /y/

By first grade

all vowels, /p/, /m/, /h/, /n/, /w/, /b/, /k/, /g/, /d/, /f/, /y/, /t/, /ng/

By second grade

  • all vowels, /p/, /m/, /h/, /n/, /w/, /b/, /k/, /g/, /d/, /f/, /y/, /t/, /ng/, /l/, /sh/, /ch/, /j/, /zh/

By the age of eight children should be able to produce the following sounds in addition to above:

  • /r/, /s/, /z/, /v/, /th/

Lindamood Bell's Lindamood Phoneme Sequencing® (LiPS®) program

Some of my students use The LiPS® program which teaches students to feel the actions of their lips, tongues and vocal chords, and to notice and label them. Sounds are introduced in pairs (Brothers) and labeled quiet or noisy, based on vibrations of the vocal cords. These sounds have names that help students remember the parts of the mouth that are used to produce the sounds.

Tongue Scrapers

The back of the tongue is elevated and makes hard contact with the soft palate, the air is suddenly released.

Tips for teaching the /k/ and /g/ sounds

1. Have the child lean his head back so the tongue slides back to the oral cavity. Sometimes having the child actually lay on his back is needed.
2. Use a Mini Tootsie Pop to told the tongue tip down and then tell the child to make the sound or flavored tongue depressors can also be used in the same way

3. Talk about making a “surprise face” (mouth wide open, tongue tip down) and say “aahhhh”. Then tell the child to keep tongue tip “right where it is” on the bottom teeth, 4. and make the “cough sound” right here, (tapping my throat as a visual). Having the child cough, or lay on floor for gravity to move tongue back for K. For G have the child pretend they are drinking water.

4. Have students lay down on the floor under a table on their backs. Shine flashlights up at pictures that I are taped underneath the table.

5. Use animals cut in half to demonstrate a visual concept of front and back. Then talk about front and back sounds.

6. Have the child do an H sound in a loud, but voiceless, manner: HUH-HUH-HUHKKKKKK. Attach the KKK to the end of the HUH. I might tap behind the child’s jaw at the same time to provide some tactile cues.

7. For discrimination, make a K or T sound and point to a corresponding picture of a T with a ticking clock or a K with a crunched paper. Have the child point to answers as you exaggerate the sounds, including an open mouth for K.

8. If a child does not produce /k/ or /g/ correctly in any words, then we do have to provide information about place of production. The first thing I would want to know is whether or not the child produces "ng" correctly. If yes, then I can use "ng" to teach the approximate place of production for /k/ and /g/. All three sounds are classified as velar consonants. Their production involves raising the back or dorsum of the tongue to make contact with the roof of the mouth about at the boundary of the hard and soft palate. Ask the child to start by producing "ng" and then to "stop" the air flow. This occurs by moving the soft palate to block off the nasal cavity. Once air pressure builds in the oral cavity, the child can either use a "breathy" release for /k/ or a "noisy" release for /g/. Voicing on /g/ might be easier if you use a brief "uh" vowel on the release. If children struggle with raising the soft palate during the "ng" production, you might ask them to block their nostrils with their fingers. This allows them to feel the build up of air pressure.

9. Use /y/ if your client already has it because it too is a back sound. Have him say “yuh-yuh-yuh…” and tell him to push up higher in the back. You may start hearing “gyuh-gyuh…” Then you’ve got it.

10. Tap the back of the crown of the head to show him the high spot where he should push the back of the tongue up.

11. When a client struggles to produce the /k/ and /g/ sounds it is usually due to difficulties with tongue retraction/ oral motor weakness. Tongue retraction is the ability to elevate the back of your tongue. Difficulties retracting the tongue can be observed when the client drinks from a straw. Suckling a straw is another instance where children exhibit the inability to retract the tongue.


To do this command: Place the tip of your middle finger at the very back of the child's throat, under their jaw. Gently, but firmly, press your finger upward so the child feels the pressure. Say the "G" sound, like "Guh" or "Grr" or whatever you want to try, while this command is being done. Or say the hard "K" sound like in "Cat" when you are doing this command. Have the child say the sound at the same time as well. Support may be necessary for the child's head to keep the child in a proper position.
How to Teach k and g Sounds...and Fun with Lollipops!
Hand Cue Sound Matching app

Practice Articulation at Home

Using flashcards can make practicing your speech very enjoyable. If your child is able to produce his sound correctly 40% or more of the time in single words, practicing at home will be beneficial. Find 20 robust vocabulary words from your curriculum that contain your sound. Write each word from that list on two 3x5 cards. Make sure that your child is able to read the words. Practice saying your words with these games:

1. MYSTERY PICK: An adult chooses a card (not telling which one), and places it into the deck, shuffles, and fans the cards out. The student guesses which card the adult chose using good speech.

2. UP on the CUPS: Have the child close his/her eyes. Hide a small object beneath one of three opaque cups. On top of each cup place a stimulus card. The student guesses under which cup the object is hidden, by naming the card resting on top.

3. PICK 2: The Student picks 2 cards from the stimulus deck, then must make one sentence using both words. Rules can vary: the sentence must make sense, or the sentence must be nonsense.

4. MEMORY LINE UP: Place 3,4,5 cards in a row. The student says each, then closes his/her eyes, while the adult switches the order. The student then must say them as she/he put the cards back into the correct order.

5. SAY IT in a FLASH: Place stimulus cards around the room. Turn the lights down low, and student shines a flashlight onto a card and says it using good speech.

6. HATS OFF: Place a large hat on the floor, upside down. Student says each card as they attempt to toss the cards into the hat. Variation: use a ball and a basketball hoop or trashcan- say a word before each turn.

7. MEMORY: Place all the cards, word down, on the table. Taking turns with an adult, each person turns over two cards. If they match, the child must read the word and can keep the pair. If the two cards do not make a pair, they are turned over and the next person has a turn. The person with the most pairs wins.

8. GO FISH:In order to play Fish, you need to make more flashcards. You will need 14+ pairs. Deal five cards to each player. Leave the undealt cards face down as a draw pile. Starting with the player at dealer's left, each player asks another for a card. For example: "Kevin, do you have Restaurant?" In order to ask, you must already have a card with Restaurant. Whenever your request for a card is filled, it remains your turn. Continue with your turn. When the player you ask can't oblige, you'll be told to "Go Fish." Pick up the top card of the draw pile. If it's the card you called for, show the card at once, and your turn goes on. Otherwise, your turn ends. Play proceeds until the draw pile is gone.

9. TEACHER: give an adult a spelling test using the words

10. SPELLING TEST: Have an adult give you a spelling test using the words

11. ANY BOARD GAME: Say 3 words before taking each turn while playing a board game that you have at home.

12. READERS THEATER: Ask your family to put on a Readers Theater Play and practice the words while performing. Ask me to print out the script for you or find it on the StoryTown website.

13. HIDE AND SEEK: Hide cards around a room in your house. Say the word when you find it

14. DETECTIVE: Analyze each word to determine if your sound comes at the beginning, middle or end of the word

15. TONGUE TWISTERS: Make up a tongue twister using each card. Have the sentence 4+ words with 3 or more of the words starting with your sound.

16. TIC TAC TOE: Cut out 6 blue squares and 6 red squares. The adult gets one color and the child gets the other. Place 9 flashcards on a tic tac toe grid. Read the word of the box you want to claim and then place your square down. The person that gets 3 in a row wins.

17. BEAN BAG TOSS: Lay out flashcards face down up the floor. Toss the bean bag and identify the flashcard it lands on.

18. CROSS THE RIVER: Place flashcards on floor in winding manner. Each represents a stepping stone in the river. The student must say the word in order to step on it and cross the river!