'Flat Stanley' Circles The Globe

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For those who haven't been in elementary school for awhile, Flat Stanley is the main character in the book of the same name.

"Stanley Lambchop is a nice, average boy," the blurb on the back of the books says. "Then one day, a bulletin board falls on him and suddenly Stanley is flat."

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Members of Tami Fischer's third-grade class at FES have learned a lot about their country from the responses to their Flat Stanley letters.

Hayden Pate, a Frontier Elementary School third grader, explains the implications:

"He got smushed by a bulletin board and then he could do anything in the world that nobody else could do. He could slip under doors and all kinds of stuff, and I don't remember the rest of it. Short memory loss."

Life changes dramatically for Flat Stanley, who now measures four feet tall, one foot wide and half an inch thick. Stanley gets rolled up, mailed, and flown like a kite.

After reading "Flat Stanley," Hayden and the rest of the third graders in Tami Fischer's class drafted letters to send to friends and relatives all over the country.

"We had to write like a paragraph or something, a Flat Stanley letter," Troy Graham said. "Then we sent it off in the mail to anyone like out of state."

Troy's letter, for example, went to his grandmother in "Sconsin."

Accompanying the students' letters were large pictures the students had colored of Flat Stanley wearing an FES sweatshirt, along with a letter from Fischer explaining the project. The idea was to get the recipients to write back and send photos, and other items representative of their locales.

"It's a real popular book, and it's an activity other classes do as well," Fischer said. "We even get Flat Stanleys in the mail from other schools."

As responses to the mailing come in, they are indicated on a big U.S. map on the classroom wall.

"That way we get some geography, as well as writing and reading," Fischer said.

So far, five of Fischer's students have received responses.

Bronte Lecher, whose Uncle Bryan in Sumpter, S.C., took Flat Stanley to the hospital emergency room where he works. "The patients really liked having Flat Stanley there, especially the little kids," Uncle Bryan wrote. "Thanks for letting us participate."

Taylor Petersen's cousin Sean in Alaska sent photos of Flat Stanley next to a chocolate waterfall, grizzly bear, moose and giant teddy bear. Best of all, Taylor's cousin sent chocolate coins from Alaska for the entire class.

Davis Dailey's uncle Terry Butcher in Olympia, Wash., took Flat Stanley skydiving. Butcher, the detachment commander for a U.S. Army Special Forces group stationed at Fort Lewis, even had an official account of the incident drafted.

"When the helicopter reached 14,000 feet, the rear ramp was lowered and Flat Stanley moved with CPT Butcher to the edge of the ramp. On the jumpmaster's signal, Flat Stanley and CPT Butcher jumped from the aircraft."

Logan Morris wrote to his uncle Kevin in San Diego. In addition to postcard's highlighting some local attractions, Logan received a bag full of genuine beach sand.

And, Madison Flake's cousin Melanie in St. Helen, Ore., sent sand dollars, seashells, crabs, stickers, and photos of Flat Stanley at the beach.

When Fischer's students were done talking about the responses they had received so far, they hurried off to PE -- a productive way to pass the time waiting for the mail to arrive.

In case you're wondering, at the end of the book, Flat Stanley's brother blows him back up with a bicycle pump.

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