THRASS is an acronym for Teaching of Handwriting, Reading and Spelling Skills. Spelling and literacy are a priority at Park Ridge. Strategies for learning ‘how’ to spell are a very important part of the spelling process.Scientific research has shown phonics is a crucial strategy in the understanding of ‘how to spell’. This is also acknowledged in the Australian Curriculum. THRASS is based on the principle that, while there are 26 letters in the alphabet, there are 44 speech sounds (phonemes) in spoken English, furthermore, these speech sounds are represented by different letters and different combinations of letters (graphemes). The THRASS picture chart is used to explicitly teach the 44 speech sounds (phonemes) and the different spelling choices (graphemes) for each phoneme. Students learn that there are 24 consonant and 20 vowel phonemes and these are represented on the THRASS chart with corresponding words and pictures. We no longer teach spelling rules related to silent letters or the magic ‘e’.

Some Terms and Definitions


A speech sound


A letter or number of letters that represent a speech sounds- also known as a spelling choice

Vowel phoneme

One of the 20 phonemes represented in the vowel half of the THRASS chart

Consonant phoneme

One of the 24 phonemes represented in the consonant half of the THRASS chart

Phoneme Fingers

Holding up one finger at a time as each phoneme in a word is articulated in order


One letter representing one phoneme


Two letters representing one phoneme


Three letters representing one phoneme


Four letters representing one phoneme


One letter representing two phonemes, such as the ‘x’ in ‘box’  ‘X’ =  (k) and (s)


One letter representing three phonemes

Grapheme Catch-All (GCA)*

Graphemes that are not on the chart are represented in the phoneme boxes by an asterisk

How can parents help?

  • Talk with your children about the meaning of the words through reading and language experiences.
  • Explore words in a fun and meaningful way rather than simply ‘rote’ learning them. This will support your child’s literacy development in order to become a more competent and adventurous speller.

THRASS and Writing

THRASS has greatly improved the content, handwriting and spelling skills of the children at our school.

Below is an example of the standard expected at the end of Foundation as indicated by ACARA (Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority).

Below are two examples of writing by a Park Ridge Student at the end of their Foundation Year.  As you can see this student is producing writing that is well beyond that of the expected standard.

Parent Support Videos

Please take the time to watch the videos to familiarise yourself with the THRASS approach.  The videos have been uploaded on the Vimeo platform.

The password to watch the videos is: park

  1. How to navigate the THRASS chart and phoneme

  1. How to THRASS out a word

  1. How we test Hot Words in Foundation

  1. How to segment words

  1. How to ‘Sparkle’ words in Year 2

THRASS Scope and Sequence

Created March 2017

1. Whole School Perspective

At Park Ridge Primary School, we believe that the teaching of spelling is best approached from

a whole school perspective, centred on a consistent spelling sequence that will be

implemented from the start of the learning process and applied at each level of learning.

We believe that children should be taught how to spell. They need strategies to

successfully apply this information in everyday work or to encode newly encountered words.

2. A phono-graphic approach

Phonics is the understanding of how the units of speech, phonemes (speech sounds) are

represented in the written form – spelling choices (graphemes). Along with an awareness

of the 44 phonemes of English, we need to teach children to link this understanding to

graphemes. They need to understand that the phoneme ‘e’ is spelled differently in the word

me to the word pony. A phono-graphic approach starts with oral language and the

phonemes in words. It is very much a meaning based approach that then takes the next

step into sounds and then letters.

At Park Ridge we teach sounds only in the context of words. We call letters by their names.

Letters make sounds only when they are in words. Whole words carry meaning and are

easier for students to recall and visualise. For this reason, all phonic work is done using a

whole word approach.

Children must be taught to differentiate between phonemes in words. This is assisted

through the use of the ‘phoneme fingers’ strategy. Teachers demonstrate this strategy in an “I

do it, We do, You do” modelled sequence, called the Gradual Release of Responsibility Model (GRRM). The children are encouraged to use this strategy when they are writing as they always have their hands available, and have access to a

THRASS chart.


The THRASS chart is a teaching tool that is used consistently through F-2 to help teachers

teach spelling. THRASS stands for Teaching Handwriting Reading and Spelling Skills. It is

a highly visual teaching tool that is a map representing the English Language.

The THRASS chart has 44 boxes – one for each sound (phoneme) in English. The charts

have two parts. The top chart has the consonant sounds of English (24) and the bottom has

the vowel sounds (20). They should always be displayed in each classroom with the

alphabet strip along the top (consonants) and the vowels at the bottom. Both the yellow and

blue chart should be on display and in use at all levels.

There is an explicit focus in teaching the chart as tool throughout the year at all levels, but

particularly at the beginning of each year. For example, Foundation students are taught to

recognise the words on the blue chart with pictures to support them, year 1 and 2 students

are taught to find boxes by their phoneme name.

4. How we teach spelling

The method for teaching spelling is the THRASS MASUTA spelling sequence. This has an

emphasis on meaning and using spelling words in writing. The purpose of spelling is to use

these words for written communication, hence words selected for weekly spelling lists are

relevant to students’ learning and interests, they are words that children will have the

opportunity to read and use in their writing.

MASUTA stands for Meaning, Analysis, Synthesis, Using Memory, Testing, and Applying.


A teaching sequence used to successfully teach

spelling and word comprehension.

M eaning

Say the word. Explore the meaning. Articulate the meaning. Explore alternate meanings.

A nalysis

Firstly, identify the individual phonemes in the word.

Secondly, identify the graphemes that represent each phoneme in the word.

S ynthesis

Relate back to the chart.

For example – the word say- “S” as in sun (point or trace over) “ay” as in tray

Identify and articulate the phonemes in the word in the correct sequence (synthetic phonics).

Explore phonic understanding and synthesis using phoneme deletion/manipulation activities.

For example, f r o g, without the ‘r’ would be ‘f o g’

U sing memory

Identify graphemes that may need particular attention. “If I was teaching this word to

someone else, which part may be difficult?”

Spell graphemes/words from memory using letter names.

T esting

Test List Words to assess that the learner is able to: 1. Say the word. 2. Articulate the word

in a sentence to show meaning. 3. Isolate and write particular graphemes related to the

word. 4. Spell the word correctly using letter names.

A pplying

Apply skills and strategies to correctly spell words in everyday writing and dictation activities.

To simplify this approach for our students we have adopted the SMART way of ‘THRASSING OUT’ words.

The SMART approach:

S – say: This is the word “horse” (say horse)

M – meaning: A horse is an animal that many people ride.

A – analyse (by the syllables, sounds, then letters): There is one syllable in

Horse. Horse has 3 sounds “h” “or” and “s” – phoneme fist. We write it with 5

letters: h-or-se. The word has two digraphs.

h as in horse se as in horse

h / or / se.

or as in fork

R – remember Which parts of the word horse do you know? What parts could

someone else find tricky?

T – teach – say letter names h-or-se.

Park Ridge Primary School Spelling Skills and Knowledge Developmental Sequence F-2

Foundation Year 1 & 2



Can name all pictures on the

blue chart

Can find boxes by their phoneme name on the yellow chart



Knows words are made up of sounds (phonemes)

Can blend phonemes to make words

Can manipulate sounds within


Related words by rhyming

Relates new words by analogy

to the chart

Beginning to segment words into syllables and then into phonemes



(breaking up


Teacher models use of ‘phoneme fingers’ Students independently use ‘phoneme fingers’ when writing

Teacher models use of spelling grid, including syllable breaks.

Vowels and


Knows consonants are at the top and vowels are down the bottom of the THRASS chart Knows that to make a consonant sound you need to

move your mouth and modify the airflow.

Knows that a vowel is a sound when you open your mouth and use a new puff of air or your chin drops

Terminology Knows all letters by their names

Capital and lower case

Have been exposed to graph, digraph, trigraph

Use a common language when describing the coordinates to locate areas on the chart:

E.g. Consonant/vowel side

Row 1

Box 2

Word 3

Independently use graph,

digraph, split digraph, trigraph

phoneme and ‘catch all’.



Understands there is more than one way to spell a sound

Refers to the THRASS chart

for assistance in making spelling


Teacher asks “Why doesn’t it

look right?” To discuss editing skills that focus on patterns

Refers to the THRASS chart for

assistance in making spelling choices

Handwriting Can correctly form all letters

using the pattern (chanted instructions) on the THRASS overwrite sheet

Writes on a single line from Term 2.

Writes on dotted thirds from

Term 3.

Sassoon font

Can correctly size letters on

dotted thirds as a guide

Write in Sassoon font

At Foundation level words are generated from the children’s learning environment. As they are still familiarising themselves with the chart there is a weekly THRASS word that acts as the springboard for their literacy learning.



(Upper and lower case)

leg panda zip
2. bed hand nose
3. tin bird pony
4. dog baby tray
5. cat bus rain tiger
6. ant me mouse water
7. tap jam gate yawn
8. sun fly chair voice
9. net fish shark thumb
10. Short Term Revision Revision Revision

Year 1 and 2 students will be using the SMART approach on a weekly basis with topic related words and commonly misspelt words.