Why Military Families are Awesome at Flat Stanley

Are we all familiar with Flat Stanley? No, well…

123px-SwallowfieldStanleyStan, as I call him, is a character from a classic children’s book. He is crushed by a bulletin board in his sleep, and is now just 1/2 an inch thick. This leads to remarkable adventures, and an ongoing book series, that will delight children of all ages.

The concept behind the Flat Stanley Project started in 1994 in Ontario, Canada. Dale Hubert thought that having students create their own small Flat Stanley and mail him around the world would create connections to other children and classrooms. And it sure did!

There is the “official” Flat Stanley project page that helps participating schools/classrooms, and provides addresses. However, you could also totally do this on your own and call it the Flat (insert name here) project, and still be totally fine. Either way, it is a cool literacy project that gets kids excited about reading, writing, and learning.

Now the FSP is an app, a website, and a whole big thing. But military families still rock at it the most!

We are creative

With the deployment cycle set on extra high for the last decade or so, we have gotten used to having a family member missing from the dinner table. So, many of us have created “Flat Daddy.” We take him everywhere: the zoo, the commissary, the airplane ride to visit Grandma, and the dentist. Then we take pictures with our Flat Daddy, and use them to keep the whole family together.

So a small, flat paper cutout of a kid named Stanley making some appearances in our photos? No big deal. And because we have years of collective practice, those pictures are going to be AWESOME! Perhaps a sweet snap at a homecoming? While casually lounging next to some amphibious vehicles? On the shooting range with Marines in full battle rattle? Yeah, consider it done.

No, those pictures will be the best

After years in the military, we have some cool connections, and Stan can pretty much get full access to the base. Perhaps your Marine works at 8th&I, so obviously Chesty the dog will want to get a pic with Stan. Know a pilot? I bet that she would take your new buddy up in the air with her! Perhaps FS could FAST rope out of the back of a helo? Literally, the possibilities are endless. And if you have a cool command and they know it is for a school project, I bet you could get some stars, and I mean the kind generals wear, into a few pictures!

World travel

The military is famous for sending families to every corner of the globe. And that stinks if you really like to see your family every summer, but you currently live in Guam and they are in Minnesota. It doesn’t stink if you need to send Stanley to some sweet locations. The address book is stuffed with foreign places, from Hawaii to Germany to Japan to Bahrain. So get those connections working!

Knowledge is power

Many military kids are already super great at locating places on world and US maps, thanks to frequent moves and deployments. This project is a fun way to keep those skills fresh, especially as deployment cycles slow down and there are talks to make moves less frequent.

Use pins or markers or stickers to plot out where you want Flat Stanley to go. Then track him, and research the places he visits. Keeping a journal is a fun way to remember this experience over time, and figure out ways to make it even better in the future!

So basically, military families are amazing at Flat Stanley. Which means that you, yes you, should be doing this right now! Like now, now. Register on the Flat Stanley site or just create your own Flat person, and start sending that mail! Let me know where your Flat journey takes you !

~Meg

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