Squashing Flat Stanley

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Looking back through recent Edutopia articles, I ran across this one about the Flat Stanley project.  It seems that the estate of the late Jeff Brown, author of the Flat Stanley children’s book, is embroiled in a legal battle with third-grade teacher Dale Hubert, who designed the Flat Stanley project.  Hubert is just a teacher trying to connect children and classrooms around the world via a character who, in the original story, gets squashed accidentally by a bulletin board and then discovers he is flat enough to fit inside an envelope and travel the world.   Students who participate in the project design their own flat character and send him to children in other countries.  Those children then write about their special visitor and his adventures with his hosts.  At the end of the trip, the journal and Flat Stanley are returned to the school of origin.

This is a GREAT project, whether done electronically or through snail-mail.  In the words of the site:

“…tech options have become increasingly popular, and some instructors incorporate videoconferencing, webcams, blogs, Google Earth, and other Web 2.0 tools to facilitate global dialogues… Students now send photos to the exchange classrooms via email or on the Web.”

When I taught second grade, we did an unofficial (modified) Flat Stanley project, not through the website, but on our own.  We found our Australian “pen pals” through ePals and enjoyed a relationship with that class through the year.  It was an enlightening, fun experience for both the kids and the teachers involved.  Whether you use the Flat Stanley character or create one of your own, whether you correspond with a class via ePals or the Flat Stanley project, I think kids from Kindergarten through high school would benefit from this kind of global experience.  Bon Voyage!

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