Those of you who are teachers, or are young enough to remember participating in this geography lesson, will know the familiar name of Flat Stanley.
This is an elementary school project that has been floating around for awhile. The project’s name comes from the character of the children’s book Flat Stanley. This book was written in 1964 by American author, Jeff Brown The book centers around the life of character Stanley Lambchop, a boy who is accidentally flattened. In the book, Stanley gets squashed flat by a falling bulletin board. His parents roll him up, put him in an envelope and mail him to his friend in California.
The Flat Stanley Project is an educational project that was started in 1995 by Dale Hubert, a third grade schoolteacher in London, Ontario, Canada. The project features paper cut-outs based on the title character of Brown’s 1964 Flat Stanley children’s book
Hubert designed the original unit to facilitate the improvement of the reading and writing skills of his elementary students while also promoting an interest in learning about different people and places.
Students involved in The Flat Stanley Project are read the story of Flat Stanley and afterwards given black-and-white cut-outs of him for them to color.
The students send their Flat Stanley character to a family member or someone living outside of the child’s town. The recipient, after being contacted for permission, take him about on daily routine outings: to the gym, to the store, to work, to the park and so on.
After a week or two, Stanley’s newfound friend writes about his visit and/or takes pictures of him wandering about. Stanley returns to the classroom via mail or being handed over to the child where he is posted in the room along with the stories of his visit.
Years ago, I had a young person send me a Flat Stanley in China during my first years in this country. No computers, no cell phones, no readily-available fax machines and only one phone on the entire campus that connected overseas. Flat Stanley came as all communication from America came: via snail-mail (the post office). It took about 3 weeks for him to arrive, hang out for a week and then another month for him to return. I later heard he came in the summer, when school had finished already and the child had moved on to the next grade.
Today’s Overseas’ Stanleys
20 years later, a new world has emerged full of technology. This includes China, where literally everyone (including the elderly) has the latest updated cell phone with a majority of people having computers. Scanning, copying, photographing, texting, emailing all take place in an instant.
21st Century Stanleys visiting overseas no longer have to suffer through the agony of weeks crumpled and folded up in an envelope, then spend weeks coming back. There was also the possibility of being accidentally lost in the US or Chinese postal system, a fate no one would wish on anyone.
Stanleys today go the modern route: electronically.
Marlee Heighton’s Stanley
A few weeks ago, from my hometown (Marshall, IL), I received an email from Dad Garry Heighton, whose mother (Karen) is a long-time friend of my mom. Garry’s daughter, Marlee, was doing a Flat Stanley project in her classroom. Would it be possible for me to help her out with Stanley coming to China?
Stanley was attached along with the explanation letter. Electronically, he could be printed out and scanned for a return along with his stories. Would I be willing to host Stanley?
Hey! Why not? Sounds like fun!
For about 2 weeks now, Stanley has accompanied me through my daily routines. He’s gone to the fitness center, walked along the Yangtze, visited farmers in the countryside, come to my English classes to meet my students, walked the campus and numerous other activities.
His date of China departure was marked May 8 but we had to delay that a bit due to Internet difficulties. I apologize to Marlee, who has been waiting eagerly for his pictures and reports to share with her classmates, but here it is.
Enjoy the slideshow! Better let him rest up a bit. He had a really busy 2 weeks.
And Stanley, and I, send you a Ping An (Peace) for your day.
I (Stanley) Come to China to Visit Connie
Connie’s Home at Luzhou Vocational and Technical College
My First Day with Connie
A Trip to the Countryside (To Be Continued)