Sail the Whale and Snail


Recognize (e.g. "Do sail and whale rhyme?") and/or produce (e.g. "What rhymes with sail?") words that rhyme with sail.

Lesson Plan

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Target Words:

  • sail
  • whale
  • snail
  • pail


  • Large pail (or tub - fill with water)
  • Snail graphic (see below - laminated)
  • Whale graphic (see below - laminated)
  • Straws

State and model the objective
Tell the children that they will get to sail a snail and a whale in a pail and practice saying words that rhyme with sail.

Practice the skill within an activity    

Sail the whale and snail

  • Tell the children that they will sail a snail and a whale, and point out that sail, snail and whale rhyme.
  • Explain that when something sails, it is pushed across the water by the wind.
  • Divide the children into two teams, and have each team stand in a single file line near the pail. 
  • Give one team the picture of the snail and the other team the picture of the whale.
  • Have the first person in each line kneel next to the pail.
  • Put the snail picture and the whale picture in the end of the pail closest to the children and give the two children each a straw.
  • When you say "go," have the children kneeling in front of the pail blow through their straws behind the whale and the snail to move them forward through the water. 
  • Have the children continue blowing until either the whale or the snail reaches the other side of the pail.
  • As the children are sailing the whale and snail, have each team cheer for their teammate by saying, "Sail the whale!" or "Sail the snail!"
  • Repeat the activity until all of the children have had a turn to sail the whale or the snail.

Apply the skill

Practice rhyming

  • Produce words that rhyme with sail
    • Remind the children of the words they played with (sail, whale, snail).
    • Tell them you can think of other words that rhyme with sail (rail, tail, stale, mail).  
    • Ask each child to think of a word that rhymes with sail. 
    • If a child doesn't respond in a few seconds, give him/her an option:  
      • "How about hail?  Does hail rhyme with sail?" (Nod your head yes to let the child know that they rhyme) 
      • "Do kale and sail rhyme?" (Nod your head yes)
  • Recognize rhyming words 
    • Have the children repeat a set of 2 words (e.g. sail, snail)
    • Ask the children to show you thumbs up if the words rhyme and thumbs down if the words do not rhyme.
    • Repeat with other sets of words: (e.g., tail, whale; hail, kale; sail, cat; stale, trail; pail, nail; mail, truck; rail, gale).
    • If children do not respond correctly, repeat the 2 words, emphasizing the ending sounds of the words. 


SEEL At Home

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Recognize (e.g., “Do sail and whale rhyme?”) and/or produce (e.g., “What rhymes with sail?”) words that rhyme with sail.


  • Snail graphic (see below – laminated or waterproofed)
  • Whale graphic (see below – laminated or waterproofed)
  • Straws
  • Large pail (or tub) 
  • Timer or stopwatch

Activity: Sail a Whale and Snail

  • Let your child decide whether he or she wants to sail the snail or the whale (see below) first.
  • Put the chosen picture (snail or whale) in the pail (or tub) at the end closest to your child. 
  • When you say “go,” have your child blow through the straw at the water behind the animal they chose to make it sail to the other end of the pail. 
  • Time how long it takes for the animal to get to the other end of the pail.
  • Switch pictures, and have your child sail the other picture (either the snail or the whale) as you time it.
  • Talk about how long it took the snail and the whale to sail across the pail. Decide which sailed faster.
  • If desired, race the snail and the whale across the pail by having your child blow the water behind one picture while you blow the water behind the other and see which animal sails faster.
  • After racing the snail and the whale, have your child identify the words that rhyme with whale in the activity (e.g., snail, whale, pail, tail). 
  • The activity can be repeated several times.



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CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RF.K.2.A: Recognize and produce rhyming words.