Flat Stanley

Dick and Jane book My first-grade reading adventures were dominated by Dick, Jane, and Spot.

I saw Dick.

I saw Jane.

I saw Spot.

I saw them run.

Funny Dick. Funny Jane. Funny, funny Spot.

Oh my . . . it’s amazing that people who used these books to learn how to read ever developed a love for reading! Why in the world didn’t my first grade teacher ever introduce me to Flat Stanley by Jeff Brown instead? Was it because I was probably in the fifth grade when the book was published . . .??

Flat StanleyWell, I’m glad that I am aware of Flat Stanley now because as a grandmother I can have great fun with this book! I recommend that you check the book out of your local library so that you can read how poor Stanley became flat. (A bulletin board fell on him while he was asleep.) You can read how he retrieves his mother’s ring when it fell down a grate. How he went to California in an airmail letter. How he saves the day by stopping a gang of thieves from stealing paintings from a museum. You might want to buy your own copy so that you can read it to your grandchildren when they come for a visit. Or, if your grandchild lives far away, you might want to mail her the book, have her read it, and then explain the Flat Stanley activity that the two of you will do. After all, if your granddaughter isn’t familiar with the story, your activity won’t make much sense to her!

Flat Stanley by Jeff Brown is for ages 6-9. Older children still in elementary school will get a kick out of the Flat Stanley activity even though the book might be easy for them to read.

Flat Stanley Experience
After reading the book, have your granddaughter draw and color a picture of herself on a piece of paper. This is her ‘Flat Stanley’ figure. (She might want to cut her face out of a school picture to glue on her Flat Stanley figure. You might want to laminate her figure. You’ll see why in a minute . . .) You need to draw a picture of yourself, too. Then, exchange figures.

Have your granddaughter take your figure with her to her various activities throughout the week. Have her take a digital picture of your Flat Stanley figure at her activities. (You might have to solicit the help of your granddaughter’s parents to take the pictures depending on the age of your granddaughter.) Example: She could take a picture of your figure sitting by her at the breakfast table, at her desk at school, by her lunch tray at noon, on the piano during piano lessons. Then, she can e-mail you the pictures that she took so you can see where the two of you have been during the last week.

You, of course, will take her Flat Stanley figure with you to your activities — going to work, going on a zip line in Costa Rica, going to the grocery store, working out in the yard, watching the 6 o’clock news, doing water aerobics, shoveling the snow on the sidewalk. (This is where it might help to have a laminated figure.) Then, you will e-mail your pictures to your granddaughter. It will be great fun to see where each of you have taken the other person’s Flat Stanley figure.

I can imagine taking my grandson’s ‘Flat Stanley’ on the bus to work — and the look on the other commuters’ faces. Or seeing it sitting by my computer at work. Or on my elliptical machine. Or by me on the couch as I write a post to my grandma site . . . I just have to wait for him to grow up a wee bit before we can do this activity . . . As a two-month old, his fine motor skills just can’t quite hold a pencil to draw with . . .

Be creative in the pictures you take of your granddaughter’s Flat Stanley figure. Even if you think you aren’t doing anything exciting, make it exciting by where you put her figure. If you use humor in the placement of your granddaughter’s Flat Stanley figure, your granddaughter will love seeing the pictures.

A very creative and artistic college student recently received her nephew’s Flat Isaac (that was the name of her nephew). You can see her pictures and read about her experience to help you get an idea of some of the things that you can do.

There are also some variations that you can do. You could make a little booklet for your granddaughter with the pictures you have taken instead of just e-mailing the pictures to your granddaughter. If you have a movie camera, you can make a movie with your granddaughter’s Flat Stanley figure instead of just taking still pictures. If your granddaughter lives nearby, you could do this as a joint activity where you go out together and take pictures. You could even create a little story or skit and take pictures of both of your Flat Stanley figures in key locations. (In my story, I think I’d have to take the Flat Stanley figures to Shirley’s Bakery to get some orange rolls . . . YUM!)

If you’re interested, you can read how Jeff Brown came up with his idea for the story.

Flat is where it’s at!
Digi-Gram