Tuesday, April 15, 2008

A Letter from a Friend of 'Flat Stanley', a Literacy and Geography Project for the Whole Family

© Danielle, 2008

Hi there, my name is Danielle. I have Lilly (5) Ocean (4) and Charlie (1). We are homeschooling in Maleny QLD. I wanted to join other groups around Australia as we plan to travel soon. Just a quick note about another Yahoo Group I discovered for home schoolers called Flat Travelers.

We read the book Flat Stanley by Jeff Brown (available at the library)before getting started and that provided a good introduction for the kids.

Basically though, the story goes that a cork board falls on a little boy while he is sleeping and he wakes up flat. (Okay it is an old story, don't freak out) He finds all the positives about being flat and one of them is that he can travel to different places in an envelope!

So here's the thing - Lilly, Ocean and I made some Flat Travelers and have been sending them all over America and the UK. We have also hosted some Flat Travelers. It's really fun!

We have used photographs and small colour ins but you can use your imagination. Put your name and address on the back and laminate or cover with contact. This is your Flat Traveler! I have seen all sorts of different travelers; fairies, animals, dragons, photos of families, cartoons and even a Flat Steve Irwin!

I include a small journal (just 2 page thickness of standard copy paper) or a mock passport or sometimes just a page of questions for the host family. You can also send information about your country and family etc.

This is a fantastic geography, literacy, socialization activity! And obviously heaps more. It is great for children at all different levels as you can modify the learning opportunity to suit. At first we just used it as a colouring in activity. The trip to the post office was fun, there's cutting and laminating to do as well. Children can write or at least create their own journal, think about appropriate questions and what to include... On a more advanced level you could use it as a tool for researching other cultures, countries and geographical locations to a reasonably in depth level. It would certainly be a great starting point anyway.

One mum wrote to me asking for Australian recipes, slang words, export/import information, maps and heaps more. She also said that she uses it to explain the timezone difference and the change in seasons. It is much easier if she can say , "Well Lilly and Ocean are asleep now."

If you use your imagination this activity is just so cool! We are only just getting started on it and the scope is massive, right from calculating postage costs to discovering what a capital city is... And of course designing a personality for your Flat Travelers.

We currently have 20 out there and 6 at our house. We are in the process of making large poster maps that plot the courses of our Flats and all the places we have visited and families we have met.. We have compiled an address book and expanding file containing all the information and souvenirs.

We took our hosted Flats on the Valley Rattler and I feel like I'm in holiday mode all the time now with my snap shots and souvenirs.

Oh yes, some families will send back to you packages of goodies, but don't expect it as it is not a requirement. Many people also send their holiday photos by disc.

I have also found it has widened my eyes to the learning opportunities around us. I am always looking for interesting historical, geographical information etc for the Flats and this benefits the kids too.

So if you are like me and temporarily or even permanently grounded (
but secretly a backpacker trapped in a mother body) then visit;
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/flat_travelers_homeschool/ and get traveling - there is no excuses!

Love and light,
Danielle, Lilly, Ocean and Charlie!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

The Flat Stanley Project is an international literacy and communications activity for primary and junior students, teachers and families. There are now over 1000 classes around the world participating and thousands of homeschooling families are sending Flat Stanleys all over the world! It's become a popular way of teaching and encouraging an interest in geography and international studies as well literacy.

The Official Flat Stanley Project website is full of stories and pictures about Flat Stanley's amazing journeys, as well as ways to enhance the educational experience for Stanley and the children he visits.
The Project began in 1995, Dale Hubert, by a Grade 3 teacher in London, Ontario, Canada.

Please use student's first names only when corresponding, particularly over the internet.