A favorite activity in my second grade classroom was creating our own Flat Stanley project. We were able to bring reading and social studies together in one fun activity. Here are the step by step plans that I used to do Flat Stanley in our classroom.
Read the book
Send a letter to parents
After we finished reading the book, I send home letters with my students. The letter asks for addresses of family and friends who live around the world and would be interested in receiving a Flat Stanley. The letter outlines what is involved in the project.
Some students will come back with addresses from across the world, while others will have addresses of fellow community members. And there will be students who don’t have any addresses at all.
In this case, I ask my own family members and friends if they are willing to participate. I’ll even reach out to staff members who might know someone who lives out of state. This way, each student will hopefully receive a Flat Stanley back.
In the letter, I also ask for donations to the project. Families offer to send in envelopes and stamps to help get our project off the ground.
Create a Flat Stanley
Then my students design their own Flat Stanley, using the template outline. They can make a Flat Stanley that looks like them or get creative and make a unique one. They always come out looking awesome!
Write letters & address envelopes
Then students write letters to their Flat Stanley recipients. We discuss what information should be included in the letter. In their envelopes, I also have them include a letter from me and a fact sheet to fill out about the location Stanley is visiting. And don’t forget to put Stanley in the envelope!
After my students fill their envelopes, we address them. This is a great way to practice this real-world skill. We talk about where to put the return address, recipient’s address and the stamp.
I recommend having them practice first, so that envelopes aren’t wasted. I assisted some of my students by putting lines on their envelopes, to help them write in a straight line.
Check the mailbox!
To make receiving our Flat Stanleys more exciting, I purchased a cardboard mailbox for our classroom. We place it near our meeting area on the rug. Each day, one student is chosen to open the mailbox.
Next, we check to see who the envelope is addressed to. That student would then get to open the envelope and share it with the class.
We receive a wide range of items in the envelopes, so it is always a surprise to see what is included! Some Stanleys come back with just the fact sheet filled out. Others come back in a box with full-blown scrapbooks and souvenirs. It was so neat and I definitely learned about different states and countries too!
Keep track of your Flat Stanleys
One of the ways we kept track of our Flat Stanleys’ adventures is on a map. On multiple maps, actually. I hang up a map of our state, the country and the world. This allows us to really pinpoint the different places that Stanley visited and the areas we learned more about. My students also have their own maps to track his travels.
Since we also send our recipients a fact sheet, I create a binder for all of the sheets that were filled out. Students love learning important facts about the world and read through the binder often (and liked to test me on my knowledge!).
If souvenirs are returned with Flat Stanley, I keep them on a table in the classroom where students can access them ( as long as they aren’t breakable). Once we complete the project, the items go home with the student who received them.
Write thank you notes
Lastly, we thank our Flat Stanley recipients. As a class, we brainstorm what should be written in a thank you note (another real-world skill!). Each student designs a card and writes a thank you note to each person who sent them a Flat Stanley (some students created more cards than others). Again, we would address the envelopes and send them out.
This hands-on learning activity is a powerful way to engage your students in learning about the world around them. Unfortunately, we have so many students that don’t have the opportunity to travel, so this gives them the chance to learn about places that they might not otherwise visit. The Flat Stanley project provides so many benefits and learning experiences for students!
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