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All About Stanley - That's Flat Stanley

written by: Pam Cannon • edited by: Amanda Grove • updated: 4/5/2012

The beloved book of Flat Stanley makes children laugh. It provides possibilities for discussions about good manners, fiction or fantasy and Flat Stanley activities across the curriculum.

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    Let the Reading Begin!

    Gather your students together and share Flat Stanley. Point out that Jeff Brown is the author and Tomi Ungerer is the illustrator. Take time to examine the pictures and talk about the expressions on the faces of the various characters. The students will like to hear how Jeff Brown was born Richard Chester Brown. He became a child actor belonging to the Actors Equity, and, as there was already a Richard Brown registered, he changed his name.

    The idea for this story was formed one evening when Jeff Brown was putting his two boys to bed. They were stalling for time and one of them asked what would happen if the big bulletin board that was on their wall should fall on his brother. Mr. Brown said that most likely he would wake up flat.

    Ask students what name they would choose if they had to change their name for some reason?

    Have any of the students had an idea for a story when something happened to them? Would they like to share the idea?

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    Good Manners are Important

    While sharing the book ask your students to be on the lookout for evidence that Mr. and Mrs. Lambchop are concerned that their boys have good manners and are respectful. On chart paper make two columns (one for Mr. Lambchop and one for Mrs. Lambchop) and make a note of these observations.

    e.g. Arthur calls "Hey!" Mr. Lambchop points out that "Hay is for horses, Arthur, not people,"

    e.g. Mrs. Lambchop tells the policemen that "People should think twice before saying rude things, .........And then they should not say them at all."

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    What is the Trouble?

    Ask students to identify the main problem and its solution in the story.

    Provide large sheets of paper and ask students to fold them in half. On one side ask them to draw a picture of what they see as the problem, and, on the other side, draw a picture to show how it was solved. It is important to engage the students in discussion about their observations as there may be more than one answer.

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    Make Way for Questions

    As you share the book ask questions such as:

    Why did Mrs. Lambchop take Stanley to the Doctor's?

    How does Stanley get in and out of rooms?

    Where does Stanley travel to by mail?

    How does Stanley stay safe in crowded places?

    How does Arthur help Stanley feel better?

    How does Stanley's flat condition affect the relationship with his brother?

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    Who is in the Book?

    On a chart, or on the chalkboard, make a list of all the characters in the book. Invite students to design a new book cover for Flat Stanley. The cover must show all the characters, the author's name and the illustrator's name. There must also be a title. On the back of the cover ask the students to print a brief synopsis of the book.

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    It's in the Bag

    Provide two brown paper bags. On one of them print Stanley on the other print Martin. Invite your students to write on small strips of paper words to describe each of the boys and then to put the papers into the appropriate envelopes.

    Record on a chart under each boy's name the characteristics from the students' papers. Then invite the class to make up a co-operative poem about each boy using the words from the chart.

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    It's All in the Words

    Vocabulary activities:

    • grating Ask students to draw a picture showing a road with a grating.
    • yo-yo Provide students with yo-yos and invite them to experiment with them. Ask the students why this is a good description of Stanley searching for his mother's ring.
    • zoom Invite your students to zoom around the room like a kite.
    • tangled Give each student a piece of string. Then invite them to trace it on a piece of paper. Then ask them to tangle it up and trace the tangle.
    • shepherdess Many students will be familiar with the word shepherd. Discuss with the children that this is the word for the female. Ask students to give examples of other occupations that have male / female word e.g. waiter / waitress
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    Where Did He Go?

    Gather the students together and make a list of each of the places Stanley went to on his adventure.

    Divide the class into small groups and provide each group with a large sheet of paper. Ask the students to make a story map of Stanley's adventures. Their starting point should be his bedroom. Ask each group to print a short description of each stop on the map.

    Display the story maps on the wall outside the classroom.

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    By the Numbers

    In the book there are several opportunities to explore mathematical problems. By comparing "flat" Stanley and "boy" Stanley, students will be able to observe the difference between 2D and 3D shapes. Provide an assortment of 3D shapes and paper for the students to trace around the shapes. Discuss the differences.

    Use rulers or yardsticks to measure Stanley's new measurements when he was flat: 4 feet tall (122cms), 1 foot (30 cms) wide and 1/2 inch (2 cms) thick Measure several children and compare their sizes with Stanley's new size.

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    A Different Project

    Models of Flat Stanley have been sent to almost every country in the world. He has been photographed in all kinds of places and situations. In this Flat Stanley project every child in the class is able to take part without going on holiday, or having an extraordinary adventure.

    Provide each student with a Flat Stanley cut- out, but with a "sandwich board" for his tummy. (More sheets of paper should be stapled to his tummy to form a small book). Invite each student to take their Stanley home with them and write in his diary (on his tummy) what they did and what Stanley saw. When students return to school they could share their "Stanley and Me" diaries.

    For the conventional Flat Stanley Project visit

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    It's a Wrap

    The Flat Stanley book may be dated, but children love Stanley's tenacity and his ability to make the best of a bad circumstance. There will be many opportunities for teacher observation and for students to work individually and in groups.

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    Flat Stanley by Brown, Jeff. Published by Scholastic Inc by arrangement with Harper and Row Publishers, 1974

    Jeff Brown,

    Author's classroom experiences