K is for Kayak

These kayaks are waiting for someone to launch them into the lake.
These kayaks are waiting for someone to launch them into the lake.

K is for key

Key has several meanings to explore, including some of the following:

The item needed to open a lock.

door key

Levers used to play an instrument or operate a typewriter or computer.

piano key

The seed or samara of a maple or ash tree.

maple key

The description or list explaining parts of a diagram or map.


The basis for a solution to a code or the exact access point to a place.


A botanical key is a system for the identification of similar species of plants, usually based on a series of questions that narrows down your choices. Using such a key, you can eventually figure out what kind of plant you have found, down to the exact name of the species.

Botanical Key

Plant with no leaves or with leaves?

Divided leaves or entire leaves?

Divided leaves with narrow segments or leaflets?

Leaflets of three, five, seven, or more parts?


  1. Can you think of other kinds of keys?

Special reading assignment

  1. Wikipedia defines kite as a tethered aircraft. There is also a bird called a kite; a sort of raptor that may be found soaring in the sky in India.
  2. Have you tried a kayak or a canoe? Which do you prefer? Why is that?


K is for Kangaroo

This kangaroo at the Toronto Zoo is doing a bit of grooming.
This kangaroo at the Toronto Zoo is doing a bit of grooming.

Consonant — consonant combinations

kb        inkblot                                      bk        subkingdom

kc        porkchop                                 ck        truck

kd        markdown                                dk        vodka

kf         blackfly                                    fk         offkey

kg        ginkgo  [tree]                            gk        Bangkok [city]

kh        khaki                                        hk        latchkey

kk        bookkeeper                              kk        lockkeeper

kl         ankle                                        lk         milk

km       workmen                                  mk       gymkhana

kn        knee                                         nk        monk

kp        jackpot                                     pk        napkin

kr         muskrat                                    rk         mark

ks         marksman                                 sk         skill

kt         necktie                                     tk         catkin

kw       silkworm                                  wk       awkward

ky        cocky                                       yk        Vandyke


Consonant — vowel combinations

ka        kangaroo                                  ak        akin

ke        keep                                         ek        eke

ki         kick                                          ik         ikebana

ko        koala                                        ok        okay

ku        kudos                                       uk        ukulele

ky        kylin                                         yk        tyke



  1. In the list of “Consonant — Consonant Combinations”, how many are compound words rather than simple words?
  2. Can you think of other examples for the lists? Write them down.
  3. Create your own sentences using the words in the lists.


Special reading assignment

  1. Kangaroos are marsupial mammals; the female has a pocket in which undeveloped young are nurtured. They grow until large enough to be always sticking ears or feet out of the pocket. The mother weans her young in a safe environment.
  2. Most marsupials live in Australia. In North America, the opossum is an example of a marsupial. Have you seen an opossum or a kangaroo?

K is for Kale

Flowering kale does not mind a bit of frost.
Flowering kale does not mind a bit of frost.

The sounds of K

The letter K is an aspirant, the same as a hard C. Some words may be spelled with either a C or a K. Note that there is a difference in meaning between the words, karat, carat, and caret. The words disk and disc are also used for different things.

kaftan, caftan

kaboodle, caboodle

kalamata, calamata (olives)

kerb [British], curb [N. American]

ketchup, catsup [US]

King Knut, King Canute

skeptic, sceptic

disk, disc

CK letter combination

In some words, a K is combined with a C to indicate a hard C, where the adjacent vowels might make a soft C.

brick, bricked

fleck, flecked


Silent Ks

At the beginnings of words, K is silent before an N.

These Ks were pronounced in Old English, in the times of Chaucer and still sometimes in the times of Shakespeare. The change came sometime in the 16th and 17th centuries, because it was easier to say the words without the K.




knee, kneel





knock, knocker


know, knowledge

In German, Swedish, and Dutch, similar words have kept the K sound. Some foreign names also keep the K sound.

Knesset [Israeli parliament]

Knossos [Minoan Crete city]


Double Ks

Double Ks are unusual in English.


Unusual K words







mucky muck



  1. In a book, newspaper, or webpage, pick out words beginning with K. How do pronounce them?
  2. Make up your own sentence with a lot of Ks. Is it a true alliteration?
  3. Look up the “Unusual K Words” to find their meanings.

Special reading assignments

The knave was keen to kiss the knuckles of the king and to kick the knees of the knights.