Pupils' Flat Stanley dolls become world travelers

January 15, 1995|By Carol L. Bowers | Carol L. Bowers,Sun Staff Writer

The world may be round, not flat, but Flat Stanley is exactly that.

Being flat was no handicap, though, because around the world Stanley did go.

Of course, he had a little help from the families and friends of Davidsonville Elementary School third-graders and the U.S. Postal Service.

Inspired by the story of "Flat Stanley," which recounts the exploits of a young boy who gets flattened by a bulletin board, Barbara Gross' students made their own Flat Stanley paper dolls.

They then wrote to friends and relatives in Brazil, California and other places. A Flat Stanley went along with each letter. Mrs. Gross thought that writing letters would be good for her students and help them with geography.

"We've had our map down every day," she said.

In the book, written by Jeff Brown, Flat Stanley becomes a hero of sorts. He lets his brother use him as a kite, catches art thieves by hiding in a painting at the art museum and even slips down a sewer grate to retrieve his mother's diamond ring.

The Davidsonville Flat Stanleys went all over the country, popping up from Maine to California. At the Tuxedo-Cheverly Fire Department, a Flat Stanley filled baskets for the needy and watched fire equipment.

Flat Stanley also shucked oysters, had his picture taken with $100 bills at a bank, sat on the windshield of an antique car and visited the Pentagon, the White House and the Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, where he had his picture taken next to the O. J. Simpson display. The Flat Stanley that visited a bank also took a ride in the deposit bin that whooshed through the pneumatic tube at the drive-through window.

Jackie Angle's paper doll was the first to return to Davidsonville. His Flat Stanley visited "Maw Maw and Paw Paw Kunze" in Foster City, Calif., near San Francisco. His grandmother wrote that one afternoon, after several days of rain, Flat Stanley finally had a chance to go to the Golden Gate Bridge.

"At one place we stopped to look at the scenery, Flat Stanley was jumping up and down because he was so happy about seeing the Pacific Ocean and the Golden Gate Bridge," she wrote.

She also included a brief geography lesson about the peninsula where she lives and information on how the bridge remains suspended across the bay.

There was more to the exercise, however, than finding out about Flat Stanley's vacation activities, and those points weren't lost on the students.

"We got to practice our writing form," Ryan O'Connor said.

"We got to know people a little better," added Michael Cranford.

But best of all, said Jackie, "From the pictures you could see what it's like in another place."

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