Sunday, January 08, 2012

WS: The Flat Stanley Project

Never heard of it? It's an international exchange of student-made paper cut-outs resulting in photos of them in different places. It's a lovely idea, though not without it's problems. I'll talk you through it here.

Flat Stanley is a story about a boy who gets squished flat by his bookcase (or something like that), and is then able to send himself to visit his friends and other countries. I read it as a child and loved it, and it's the perfect premise for what has become quite a famous international programme. Check out the website for full details.

I do this with my "special" classes, but it would also be good with small elementary groups.

I've done this twice - sending Stanleys to about 18 different countries. However, I've only had about half of those come back to me. I know what it's like to be a teacher, so I can understand how these things get misplaced or forgotten about, but it's still annoying for the kids.

Here are some ways to maximise the chances of return:

  • Don't ask for Stanley back (or at least don't insist on it)
  • Say that photos are best emailed to you rather than sent
  • Don't send a wad of paper with "Stanley's Journal" written on it - this stuff is expensive to post!
  • Send something nice along with Stanley (a couple of little sweets or drawings done by your kids)
  • Make sure you are exchanging, not just sending; and be prompt with your return of the Stanley sent to you
  • Using photos of your students' faces for Stanley's face might tug at the heartstrings a bit more.
And here is a tip to help your children cope with the loss of a Stanley:
  • Have them make their Stanleys as groups, not individuals. That way, if one doesn't come back it isn't one child as a Stanely-less reject

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