Sunday, September 19, 2010

Idea: Flat Travllers, aka Flat Stanley

Our Flat Claydee
In 1964, Jeff Brown (1926-2003) wrote a children's book and called it Flat Stanley. He followed this with Stanley in Space, Stanley and the Magic Lamp, Invisible Stanley, Stanley's Christmas Adventure, Stanley Flat Again, and Stanley and the Haunted House. Sara Pennypacker is continuing to write about this flat character in her series, Flat Stanley's Worldwide Adventures

Basically, Stanley, a young boy gets flattened by a bulletin board that had been hung above his bed. In his healthy, but flattened state, Stanley learns he can do all kinds of things he couldn't do before. One of these things is being mailed in an envelope to friends in other parts of the country.

Our Flat Weluvca Pointing to Edmonton, Alberta
And this begins the real-time saga of flat travellers worldwide! I'm not going to get into the whole history of who began what, suffice it to say, teachers and students and parents and children everywhere now can exchange flat travellers for a specified amount of time. This exchange is great for learning about other people, other places, and other cultures; it's akin to pen palling without the long term commitment. There are many ways to do this and certain groups have certain rules, so it's best to read the rules of the site or yahoo group.

This is how we have done it...

First of all, the flat travellers, also called flatties!

Flat Chae Rim from South Korea
We've made several paper travellers over the years. Some were hand drawn by my son, some were printed off from the Internet, others were paper dolls; flatties can be human, alien, animal, insect, abstract, or whatever appeals to you. All of ours were either laminated or taped up with packing tape to increase the flattie's durability and longevity. Oh, but before laminating/taping, it is advisable to write on the back some pertinent information: flattie's name, your name, and your mailing address and email. This will help the host family in the event they accidentally misplace the original envelope and email address.   

Now to hook up with someone!

Flatties Help Shovel Snow
Using one of the yahoo groups (a few of which are now dead), we would find a compatible family else where in the world and, with them, set up our own rules via email. We would discuss time lengths and any special requirements or requests. And, of course, exchange addresses to execute our plans.

In the beginning we did choose to take on our new guests, tour the flatties around with us while taking pictures of the flattie in various locations, and write up a journal and send the flatties back with extras. This proved overly time consuming and costly.

Flat Amina & Flat Guard on Vacation with Us
So, we eventually made arrangements with the other family to avoid the written journal and provide a blog instead. Our flat guest would arrive in the mail and we'd tour it around with us and show the flattie what we did each day. All this would end up in the private blog. At the end of the time period, we would pack up the flattie with extras and send him/her/it home. The great thing about blogging is that the flattie's family can see right away that the flattie is safe and if the flattie is having fun, and it's free!

Other Things...

More Flat Guests
We made up a questionnaire to either send along with the flattie or to email to the host family. It was a list of basic questions about the host family, their preferences and interests, and their location. We even sent an intro letter about our family and the story of the particular flattie we were sending.


Well, often this is just an extra. And this shouldn't be expected and isn't necessary to participate. We, however, enjoy sending home some treats with our guests. This can be anything. Post cards, pamphlets, stickers, maps, books, little toys, something homemade, etc. We usually think of things that are local or otherwise reflect who we are. Extras can be as little or as big as you can afford or wish to send. Um, as long as it complies with the postal rulings for both your own country and that of the guest flattie's.


  1. Are you still doing these? It's a fun idea. :)

  2. We just arranged a new exchange with a homeschooling family in the USA. I'm just in the middle of putting it all together.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...