Flat Stanley was written in 1964 by Jeff Brown (illustrated by Tomi Ungerer). It is the first in a series of books about Stanley Lambchop who became flat after a bulletin board fell on him. He discovered that being flat could be fun. He could fit into a large envelope and travel easily (and cheaply) by mail!
In the mid-1990’s a 3rd grade teacher in Canada decided to use the Flat Stanley story as a teaching tool to facilitate letter-writing for his students. The students would make paper Flat Stanleys and then take Stanley with them and document the places they went in a journal. The students would then mail Stanley and the journal to others, who were asked to treat Stanley as a guest, add to his journal and then return him to the student.
The focus of the project was literacy, but students also learned about the different places that Stanley had visited. Many Stanley’s were returned with photos and interesting information about the places he visited. His travels could also be tracked on maps for a lesson in Geography.
This project soon caught on in many other schools across several different countries and now thousands of school children are doing Flat Stanley projects. Several variations on the original idea have also developed over the years. Some projects are quite elaborate, such as this excellent video showing Stanley’s adventures in Hollywood.
Stanley has also visited many exotic places and met many famous people in his travels. He is sort of like the traveling gnome, except the focus with Stanley is educational.
This summer Eric’s class did a Flat Stanley project in which Stanley spent part of summer vacation with the students. The kids were asked to take photos of the places they visited with Stanley to share with the class. This turned out to be a fun project for the whole family.
Here are some of the places Eric took Stanley:
More Photos of Eric and Stanley’s summer travels on Flickr: Flat Stanley Set
The students were also asked to make two Flat Stanleys to send to friends or relatives in other states, so that the students could learn about different states. Eric sent Stanley to Aunt Phyllis in Florida and to Aunt Joyce in New York.