I should have spent yesterday writing my ONE WORD WEDNESDAY blog for an  early morning post today. I didn’t.

My daughter volunteered to help the son of an on-line friend in Minnesota  with his Flat Stanley Project. She  invited me to tag along while she and Flat Stanley visited the state capitol of Texas. I had a fun and enlightening  adventure.

You’ve haven’t met FLAT STANLEY or heard about the project?

FLAT STANLEY is Stanley Lambchop the protagonist of Jeff Brown’s 1964 children’s books series. The story goes…

Stanley and his younger brother Arthur are given a big bulletin board by their Dad for displaying pictures and posters. He hangs it on the wall over Stanley’s bed. During the night the board falls from the wall, flattening Stanley in his sleep. He survives and makes the best of his altered state, and soon he is entering locked rooms by sliding under the door, and playing with his younger brother by being used as a kite. One special advantage is that Flat Stanley can now visit his friends by being mailed in an envelope. Stanley even helps catch some art museum thieves by posing as a painting on the wall. Eventually Arthur changes Stanley back to his proper shape with a bicycle pump.

In 1995, a third grade schoolteacher in Canada used the book for a letter-writing lesson between schoolchildren as they documented where Flat Stanley went. The students created a two dimension “paper doll” fashioned to look like them and mailed Stanley to pen pals everywhere.

That project has now become a worldwide adventure for children with Flat Stanley projects. The objective of which is for the child to explore through Flat Stanley’s adventures. Sometimes by writing diaries for language arts skill or travel journals of Flat Stanley locations for geography and social studies skills. Check for the full concept here.

Flat Stanley does get around. He’s traveled to Russia with me once. As you see, my Stanley was a small, easily transportable and pose-able paper doll.

The Stanley from Minnesota was a life-size ten year-old butcher paper cutout, flimsy and awkward to pose. March winds forced us to tape him or hold him upright for pictures. We had to strap him into the seatbelt for the trip to Austin!

Some of those observing our antics recognized Stanley from their own school projects. Others scratched their heads and thought we were two crazy ladies. Can’t post the pictures until the Minnesota student completes his project, but I will get snapshots on my Judythe Morgan FB page  as soon as I can.

We began Stanley’s adventure on the University of Texas campus. One of the fringe benefits of spending the fun day with my daughter was touring her old college town haunts, her condo, the intramural field where she worked refereeing softball games, and campus buildings where she’d had classes. Her reaction to the familiar places all these years later was like seeing a child opening a Christmas present. Great memories for her, and I got a glimpse into what her life on campus had been when I sent her off to the big, bad UT.

I shared my memories of growing up in Austin. Flat Stanley saw my high school, the places I went on dates with my daughter’s daddy, houses I lived in, and some of the ancestral history of her great-grandparents who were among the founding residents.

I thought she’d be bored.  Poor Flat Stanley didn’t get a vote. My daughter claimed to be delighted to see this side to her mother…the giggles and smiles made me believe her. She suggested I compose a tour plan complete with an Austin map marked with locations for her siblings. Great idea for a memoir.

Before we ended our visit, my daughter wanted to stop by and see my eighty-five year old aunt who still lives in a small group home for the elderly.

I hesitated. Would my aunt even remember her namesake? A stroke four years ago left my aunt blind. Already deaf, the loss of another source of sensory input and the stroke damage caused memory issues.

As silly as it sounds—my daughter’s a grown woman, I didn’t want her feelings hurt or the imagery of an old folks’ home stuck in her head. I suggested lunch at a favorite Austin eatery instead.

Imagine my surprise when over lunch my daughter told me she knew what those places are like. During her years at UT, she’d gone to see her grandfather in a nursing home nearby twice a week until he passed away. She’d be fine with seeing my aunt and insisted we go.

Tears nearly blinded me, and I gave her a hug. Shocked and pleased, the value of respect and honor for elders that her daddy and I tried to instill had worked. 

Best part, when we saw my aunt, she remembered my daughter. We had a lovely visit. And over-sized, floppy Flat Stanley had quite the adventure. 

YOUR TURN: Have you ever had a FLAT STANLEY adventure or an enlightening moment with a child?


8 Comments on “FLAT STANLEY Adventure

  1. Pingback: Déjà vu Wildfires and Round Rabbits | View from the Front Porch

  2. Omg, FLAT STANLEY!!!! Such fun reading this post and bringing back memories of a truly inspired project for kids. All four of my children had a moment in Elem School (aka, long long ago) when Flat Stanley came home for the weekend. Not wanted to have to write “humdrum, boring, non-adventures” in Stanley’s travel journal, we went to great lengths to make sure Stanley had a memorable entry while he was with us. Absolute fun, and such a great idea. So happy Stanley is remains flat as ever and is still making the rounds 😀

  3. A friend’s daughter sent me and my daughter Flat Stanley a few years ago. He had traveled from Savannah, GA all the way to the Pacific NW ready for some adventure! We took him all over our town and took lots of photos together. It was lots of fun to do with my daughter (she was about 8 at the time) and I enjoyed seeing my town through a tourist’s (albeit a flat one) eyes.

  4. I remember when I first heard about Flat Stanley, when my oldest was in second grade. We never had our own Flat Stanley but my child came home and talked about the book, had me read the book, showed me pictures of Flat Stanley adventures her teacher had shared with them. I wish I’d had the wherewithal back then to send a Flat Stanley on his own adventure. I love that you and your grown child are still having Flat Stanley adventures. I really enjoyed reading about it.

  5. Oh, those third-grade teachers in Canada! What a fun and engaging concept. I love the idea of being mailed around the world, tho there could be a misadventure or two being sorted at the post office. If the glue on the envelope is still good, stuff Stanley back in, write ‘return to sender’ and save the return postage! Just don’t steam the envelope I’m in–my hair will frizz.
    Writing friend Kimberly Scutt takes Bob the rubber chicken on vacation, and is chronicling Bob’s adventures for a kid’s travel book. http://www.travellingrubberchicken.com.

  6. What fun! I’ve never traveled with Flat Stanley, but once when we were spending a family weekend in Leavenworth, WA, we had a stuffed Nemo (the orange fish from the Disney movie) and that fish is in just about every one of our photos. We look back on that trip and “find Nemo”, if you will.

    • Oh I remember the menageries of stuffed lovies we carted all over everytime we traveled. Still are! Except they aren’t stuffed. LOL

      I have an antique bathtub from the 1800s full of Disney stuffed animals.

      Thanks for stopping by.

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