THRASS moves away from the traditional “One Letter Makes One Sound” method of teaching phonics and teaches children that letters can make different sounds depending on the ‘job’ they have to do in different words. For example, the letter “a” makes a different sound in each of the following words: ant; baby; banana; zebra; swan and ball.
Children are made aware of the association between sounds and letters from an early age, and are taught to distinguish between consonant and vowel sounds and to articulate the sounds correctly.
THRASS teaches that keyspellings (also known as graphemes or spelling choices) are letters that have been grouped together to make one sound in words. A grapheme can be a graph (1 letter spelling choice, eg. “c” in cat), a digraph (2 letter spelling choice, eg. “ch”" in cheese), a trigraph (3 letter spelling choice, eg. “tch” in watch) or a quadgraph (4 letter spelling choice, eg. “eigh” in eight).
These “building blocks” of letters, speech sounds and spelling choices are further reinforced through the inter-related skills of handwriting (correct letter formation), reading (changing graphemes to phonemes) and spelling (changing phonemes to graphemes).
Using the THRASS methodology, children’s reading, spelling, auditory, visual, sequential and spatial perceptual skills are all improved.
The focus of THRASS in the classroom is a large, colourful ENGLISH PHONICS CHART, commonly known as the THRASS® Chart, with the 44 sound boxes and 120 pictures, keywords and keyspellings (spelling choices). Together with the teacher, the children explore the different sound boxes (houses) and learn about the pictures that are grouped together in the boxes as they have a common sound in their keywords. They Iearn about the different letters that make up these keyspellings and apply this knowledge to reading and spelling activities. Through the different activities that have been carefully structured in the weekly lesson plans found in the Teacher’s Guides, the teacher introduces and consolidates the children's learning experiences by using posters, Sing-A-Long songs, raps, picture cards, phonic readers, games and activities found in the classroom workbooks and homework books.
This multi-sensory approach to teaching phonics caters for all learning styles in children whether it is visual, auditory or kinaesthetic, thus making it an ideal teaching tool for the classroom, remedial purposes and home schooling for all ages.
The Teacher’s Guides Learner Phonics Workbooks and My Word Power Phonics Books were designed for the teaching of phonics to children in a systematic and progressive way allowing for the development and acquisition of the phonic skills needed for each level. Through fun and exciting activities these skills are developed and consolidated. They are ideally suited to the South African education system and are CAPS compliant.
These resources are designed for children where English is their home language as well as for those where English is an additional language. Although they are essentially meant for children in Grades 1, 2 and 3, they are versatile and can be used for a child at any level.
Additional resources which complement the programme include colourful charts of various sizes; Sing-A-Long CDs, posters and books; the Raps and Sequences CD, Phoneme-Grapheme Cards, Picture Cards and Readers that explore the sounds in engaging stories.
Spelling and literacy are the cornerstones of education – if a learner cannot successfully spell words they are less likely to succeed at formal learning. Additionally, skills and strategies for learning HOW to spell words are a very important part of the spelling process: even if a learner is able to spell a word, if they do not understand the process they cannot use this knowledge to spell unfamiliar words.
As in mathematics, it is not just the correct answer that is important, the working memory and understanding of how to achieve the correct answer are vital to the cognitive process (deep understanding) for future learning.