a whale for sale and a snail to mail

A Whale For Sale and a Snail to Mail

A Whale For Sale and a Snail to Mail
Target text


Read texts that include words that contain the two long a spellings -ai and a_e.

See Standards

Lesson Plan

Target Words:

  • mail
  • pail
  • sale
  • sail
  • scale
  • snail
  • trail


  • Disposable cups
  • Two disposable bowls or cups
  • String
  • Ruler
  • Whales and Snails for Sale sign*
  • Pictures of a snail, whale, nail, rail, scale, train, and pail*
  • Word cards*
  • Name tags*
  • On Sale! labels*
  • Mr. Snail and Mr. Whale signs*
  • Put Mail on a Scale target text*
  • A Mail Worker Sorts Mail target text*
  • Mail Your Mail in a Pail? target text*
  • Envelopes (optional)

*Items included below.

State and Model the Objective
The children will contrast words with the different long a spellings -a_e and -ai and read and write words such as sail, sale, scale, mail, and pail.

Literacy Activities
Have a sale of snails and whales

  • Pretend to nail up the sign Whales and Snails for Sale  (found below). 
  • Tell the children that they will go to a really big sale—a “whale of a sale.” 
  • Show the children how to attach a paper handle to a disposable cup to make a pail (example picture found below).
  • Put the pictures of whales and snails (found below) in the pails. 
  • Let the children put the whales and snails in the pails on sale.
  • Place On Sale! labels on the pictures of a pail, nail, whale, rail, scale, and train (all found below).
  • Pretend to put the items that the customers buy in their pails.

Decide who is working in a post office

  • Pretend to take the children to a post office to mail some of the whales and snails. 
  • Explain that postal workers can be male or female.
  • Give students the name tags for female and male workers and customers.

Put mail on a scale and put stamps for sale

  • Make a scale by using string to hang the disposable bowls (or cups) from both ends of a ruler.
  • Comment on things that the mail workers do: 
    • Put mail on a scale.
    • Sort mail.
    • Put stamps for sale. 
  • Let the children write mail to Mr. Snail or Mr. Whale using envelopes or paper.
  • Let the children sort letters into piles for Mr. Snail and Mr. Whale using the appropriate signs (found below). 
  • Have the children choose if a piece of mail should go by airmail or should go by rail. 
  • Have the children sort words with -ai from those with the -a_e spelling.

Mail a whale or a snail?

  • Have the customers with whales and snails in pails try to mail a whale or a snail. 
  • Tell the customers that they cannot mail whales or snails!
  • Let the customers come to the post office with pails to take back their whales and snails.

More Practice
Read and write target words

  • Engage the children in shared reading of the target texts (all found below).
  • Have the children write words from dictation (e.g., pail, sale, mail, snail, whale).
  • Let the children write about how they . . .
    • made pails to carry whales and snails. 
    • went to mail snails and whales.
    • put snails and whales on a scale. 
    • learned that they can’t mail whales or snails.
    • took back the whales and snails.
    • put mail in pails, not whales or snails.
Read More

SEEL Target Texts

Put Mail on a Scale

Mail workers can be male or female.  
The mail worker does lots of jobs.
The mail worker puts mail on a scale.
The mail worker puts stamps on sale.  
The mail worker nails up a sign that says, Stamps for Sale.
The mail worker nails up a sign that says, Send Mail by Airmail or by Rail 
The male or female worker does lots of things.
The mail worker does not carry mail in a pail.

A Mail Worker Sorts Mail

Some mail workers work in the post office, and some mail carriers deliver mail.
Some mail workers are male, and some mail carriers are female.
A mail worker takes care of mail.
The mail worker puts mail on a scale.
The mail worker places stamps out for sale.
The mail worker sorts the mail and lets the mail sail along on a mail train or plane.

Mail Your Mail in a Pail?

I’ll tell you what you can mail.
You can mail letters.        
You can mail a toy train.
You can mail a toy train by rail—by a real train.
You can mail a toy plane.
You can mail a toy plane by a real plane—by airmail
You can mail ginger ale, a sail, and a nail. 
You can mail a pail.
But you can’t mail a snail in a pail.
You can’t mail a whale.
And you can’t mail a real plane or train!
The mail carrier puts a toy train and a toy plane on the scale and mails them off.
Read More



SEEL lessons align with Common Core Standards. Please see the standards page for the code(s) associated with this lesson.