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The Flat Stanley Project

Also On This Site

• Flat Stanley in Carmel, California
• The Flat Stanley Books
Flat Stanley Makes Political Rounds

Elsewhere on the Web
• "Official" Flat Stanley Project Site

The Flat Stanley Project is a wonderful way to teach students all sorts of things, including the following:
  • geography
  • writing skills
  • communication skills
  • culture
  • art
  • creativity

The namesake of the project is the title character of a 1964 book by Jeff Brown. Stanley Lambchop is a normal boy who finds himself flattened by a bulletin board, but that doesn't stop his adventures. He is sent through the mail to places all around the world, where friends and family take him on trips, see sights, and increase the knowledge of the world of not only Stanley but also anyone reading the book.

Teachers across America and in Canada have taken this idea to heart, starting their own Flat Stanley Projects, in which students make their own Flat Stanleys (or Flat Jessicas or other female names) and then mail them to friends and family. The adults who receive these new flat friends take the little guys or girls on all sorts of adventures—to work, to the zoo, on plane and boat trips. The range of destinations for Stanley is limited only by the creativity of the people he visits.

Students make their own Stanleys, coloring them and adapting them to their own preferences. Some look like the Stanley in the book. Others look like the students who made them. Still others have an identity all their own. Students practice their art skills in creating the flat friends that they will send off into the world.

Students also keep journals outlining the travels of their flat friends. (In some cases, the journals are filled out by the people whom Stanley visits.) In this way, they have fun while practicing their writing skills. They will have also used those skills to write letters or emails to family and friends introducing Stanley in the first place. And, they have to get their idea across in a straightforward manner, letting people know just what they should be doing with the flat friend who arrives in the mail. This is communication skills practice at its finest.

Most classes have a large map of the United States or, in some cases, the world on which are labeled the locations that the Stanleys have visited. In this way, students learn geography. It is very likely that the Stanleys have traveled to many places across the country or around the world, and so students can plot those points on a map and find out not only where those places are but also how far Stanley has traveled and how far it is between those points.

Students also learn about cultures of other places by what Stanley's new friends do with him while he is visiting. For instance, a Stanley that visited New Orleans in the spring might visit preparations for Mardi Gras. Or a Stanley that visited New York might go on a ferry to the Statue of Liberty. On a smaller scale, a Stanley in any city might attend a flea market or a stage production or go ice skating, all the while learning how things are done in other places.

Lastly, students learn creativity by absorbing the ideas of the people who take Stanley places. The adults who receive Stanley say that it takes them back to their childhood. They are motivated to put Stanley in all kinds of unique situations, and students can track Stanley's movements and adventures and learn new ways of thinking.

The Flat Stanley Project is not limited to students, however. It has been adapted for senior citizens and for hospital residents. For people who can't get out readily and see the world, this project is a wonderful to see new things and learn new ideas.

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David White

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