How to Use Flat Stanley

by Shelley Frost

"Flat Stanley" is a book by Jeff Brown that relates the tale of Stanley Lambchop, who one day finds himself only 1/2 inch thick after his bulletin board falls on him. Stanley goes on many adventures now that he can fit in narrow spaces and even be mailed. The "Flat Stanley" story goes beyond the obvious literacy connections to almost every curriculum area for elementary students.

Mailing Project

A common activity is to send your own version of Flat Stanley in the mail to someone in another area. Let each child draw his own version of the character, or have the kids draw flat versions of themselves. Each student then mails his flat character to someone he knows, preferably in a different state or country. The recipient takes the flat character on adventures and takes photos of herself with the character. The recipient might also write about the adventures in a journal that the student includes in the mailing. The flat characters are then mailed back to the sender for the whole class to share.

Social Studies

The flat character packets that are returned to students become the basis of a geography lesson you can connect to the social studies curriculum. You'll need a U.S. or world map. Place a pin marker in the map for each flat character's destination. Mark your own city so students can see how spread out the locations were. Compare the destinations to see which one traveled the farthest and shortest distances. You can also see which Flat Stanley traveled the farthest north or south, which went to islands and which landed in the coldest and warmest destinations.

Language Arts

Develop literacy skills by going beyond simply reading "Flat Stanley." One option is to write a journal from Stanley's perspective. Have kids imagine what a typical day would be like if they were only 1/2 inch thick. Write journal entries that describe how everyday activities would be different. For example, playing dodge ball would be easier because the targeted student could turn sideways and be hard to hit. Another option is to have the kids write new "Flat Stanley" stories. Read a few existing versions, such as "Flat Stanley's Worldwide Adventures #1: The Mount Rushmore Calamity" or "Flat Stanley at Bat," for inspiration.

Math Connections

The book and mailing project provide some potential math connections for students. Give each student a ruler so they can see how thick 1/2 inch is. Have students find objects around the classroom that are of comparable thickness. Let them measure openings to see if Stanley could fit through them. For example, they might measure the gap between the bottom of the door and the floor or the space between the slates in an air vent. For upper elementary students, use the map scale to calculate how many miles Stanley traveled to each destination during the project.

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