Flat Stanley is a storybook character popular among second graders. As the story begins, he is a real boy who is later flattened by a falling bulletin board. Stanley learns that life in two dimensions has its advantages, such as being able to slide under closed doors, into sewer grates, and traveling by mail.
Second grade classes all over the place now participate in the Flat Stanley Project, in which students create their own version of Flat Stanley and send him by mail, with a letter, to a distant friend or relative, asking them to host Flat Stanley and to take photos of his travels and report back on them. Through this process, they learn about communicating in writing, sending mail, and they learn about the faraway place their Flat Stanley visits. Flat Stanley has been all over the world, under the sea in a Navy sub, at the North Pole, in Antarctica and in space. He was even on board the plane that landed in the Hudson River a few months ago. For more on Flat Stanley, check out his Wikipedia entry.
Three years ago, my then-seven year old niece and goddaughter, Katherine, asked me to play host to her Flat Stanley. My partner, Brian, and I had just moved to the Bay Area, so Flat Stanley’s visit provided just the impetus we needed to get out and explore our new home. Photos of that visit are online.
This year, my seven year old nephew, Tom, has also asked us to play host to Flat Stanley. We had so much fun last time, we were actually hoping he’d ask us. This time, the online landscape has changed a quite a bit and we’ve actually created a blog for Flat Stanley’s visit to Mountain View. Follow his adventures at http://flatstanleyTAO.wordpress.com. He even tweets occasionally at http://twitter.com/flatstanleyTAO.