Flat Z Visits India

Flat Stanley, written in 1964, is a well loved children’s book. The book is about a young boy named Stanley who is flattened in the middle of the night by a billboard. He survives but is completely flat.  He makes the best of his new shape and visits his friends by mailing himself to them. Many teachers have since started Flat Stanley projects, where, children create and color their own flat Stanley, then mail (or email) them to other people around the world.

While in India, I saw a Facebook post from a friend in Florida. His child’s class was doing a Flat Stanley project, but with an interesting twist. First, the student’s were allowed to name thier flat person after themselves. Second the project was virtual. The colored in Flat Z (in this case) was scanned in and made into a PDF. Over the long Thanksgiving weekend the students we’re asked to send their flat friend to as many people as possible. People who got furthest away and most places won prizes. I messaged my friend and told him his son had furthest away in the bag.

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Meet Z and Flat Z

I printed out Flat Z and introduced him to the kids.  They loved the idea.  Flat Z became an instant friend who had to come everywhere with us.

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Showing Flat Z around Mumbai

But I didn’t want to just take pictures of Flat Z at different places.  I realized this would make a great learning opportunity about Indian culture for both my kids AND Z.

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Here, I used this as an opportunity to talk to the kids about how Indians drive on the left side of the road (they hadn't noticed). I also asked them to name the vehicles they saw that you don't find in the US (Auto rickshaws)

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Flat Z helped me have a discussion with the kids about the types of Indian clothing and why we wear them for for auspicious events, like temple and a wedding

But the most exciting trip for Flat Z (and everyone else) was the trip to the wedding. Here, everyone got into the fun, including thier cousins.  Everyone wanted to be photographed with Flat Z.  The kids loved pictures of him and finding something that people would appreciate and recognize as Indian.

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Everyone at the wedding got in on the Flat Z fun

In the end I may have bombarded poor Z and his father with pictures of Flat Z exploring India.  But the kids were so invigorated with the project, and loved looking for new places to photograph him.  It started as a favor for a friend, but turned into a family affair where everyone had fun and learned about the new world around them.

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Clearly, everyone loved Flat Z

*At the end the day, Z got pictures of Flat Z from all over the world.  Flat Z saw several states with a person doing a cross country road trip, grabbed a picture with the troops in Afghanistan, and was even seen in the Maltese Islands!  Needless to say Z got a kick out of it, won the furtherest away prize, and got an A on his project.  Glad we could help 🙂

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