“There are books written about Flat Stanley. The story is about a fictional character. A board falls on him and he becomes flat,” Phillips said. “What happens is his family starts rolling him up and taking him with them on adventures all over.”
Phillips said, “What we did is after we read the book each child received a printed out Flat Stanley. They colored him and they chose someone to send him to outside of this area.”
A total of 21 Flat Stanleys were sent out from Yates Primary. Each held a letter explaining the project and asking the recipient to take Stanley on their adventures. The partners in adventure were encouraged to send in photos via email or the U.S. Postal Service.
Rozalin Fuller’s Flat Stanely went beyond photos to have his own blog. The blog was created by Rozalin’s cousin, Courtney, who lives in Collegedale. Students watched as Flat Stanley donned a scarf and hat for the cold, a name tag for work and a tie for a wedding shower.
Phillips said her mailbox, email and the blog are checked daily for any updates.
“It was a lot of fun,” Rozalin said. “I also really liked Walker’s.”
Walker Hill’s Flat Stanley made the trip from Cleveland to California’s Palm Desert to visit Walker’s grandparents. Flat Stanley’s adventures in California span three posters. Walker stood proudly in front of them as he explained Flat Stanley’s story.
In the pictures, Flat Stanley is seen riding in a golf cart, visiting the mailbox, lying out in the sun, playing golf and smelling the flowers, among other activities.
Walker expected his Flat Stanley to stay in California before an unexpected twist occurred.
“[Walker’s grandpa] printed a twin and took him to Tokyo and then to Australia and then he came back,” Walker said. “He went to the Philippine Islands around Australia, had his own seat on the flight and took a picture of the Tokyo airport’s mascot ...”
All recipients were asked to send the original Flat Stanley back. Walker’s grandpa decided to end his world travels in Cleveland with an in-person explanation of Flat Stanley’s adventures.
He explained to Walker’s classmates how he lives in the desert with postcards on the Living Desert.
Rozalin said they learned a lot including, “... it doesn’t rain a lot in the desert ... when it does, little flowers come out of the cactus to collect water.”
Walker said he was able to teach his classmates about the animals and plants in the Living Desert.
“The desert my Gran-Gran lives in is called the Living Desert,” Walker said. “It didn’t rain so much and there are some beautiful golf courses.”
Phillips said the Flat Stanley project makes geography lessons relateable for the students.
“The kids really enjoy it because they learn a lot about different areas they may never get a chance to travel to,” Phillips said. “It gave them a connection to the relative or person they sent [Flat Stanley] to. They are anxiously awaiting to see them return. Walker’s was the first person to come back.”
The project began in March and since then Flat Stanleys have been sent to Washington D.C., Honduras, Tokyo, Texas and other locations.
“One student’s [Flat Stanley] got eaten by a goat when it went to a petting zoo,” Phillips said. “The student did get to understand goats sometimes eat things they are not supposed to.”
Reed Smith sent his Flat Stanley to his mother’s friend, Sarah, or Ra-Ra as he called her, in Tokyo. She sent him a photo of his Flat Stanley and ‘Happy Birthday’ written in Japanese to celebrate his and his twin brother’s birthday.
Reed’s twin, Bennett, sent his Flat Stanley to Albany, Texas.
“[The original recipients] sent it to their daughter in Austin Texas,” Bennett said. “She sent me a picture of [Flat Stanley] in front of her boyfriend’s dog.”
Bennett explained he sent his Flat Stanley to Texas because, “I wanted to send it far away.”
Both boys colored their Flat Stanleys with an orange shirt. Bennett drew a T on his Flat Stanley’s shirt in honor of the Volunteers. When asked about their favorite player, both boys answered without missing a beat, “Tyler Bray!”
Added Bennett, “But he doesn’t play for them anymore.”
Olivia Christmas Workman also got into the sporting spirit.
“My Flat Stanley I thought was kind of unique because my cousin really likes the Washington [D.C.] football team and I wanted to make him mad at me so I put an orange shirt on [Flat Stanley] to show him I like the Tennessee Vols,” Workman said.
Of Washington, Workman said, “I learned Washington, D.C., is very, very cool and very old.”
She said she sent her Flat Stanley to Washington to learn more about the city and her cousin.
“My cousin is really nice and he gave me some gifts and I wanted to pay him back, so I sent my Flat Stanley there,” Workman said. “I heard right when he got it he started taking it on adventures.”
Phillips said this was the first year her class had participated in the Flat Stanley Project. She explained the positive results ensured the project would be repeated next year.
“I think it gives them a great sense of the world,” Phillips said. “Not just around the United States, but around the world.”