Thursday, May 15, 2003

Doll is flat-out amazing teacher


Peripatetic paper helps kids learn

By Jennifer Mrozowski
The Cincinnati Enquirer

[IMAGE] Robert Davis holds his Flat Stanley as teacher Eileen Barkey reads a letter that returned with Stanley from Point Lookout, N.Y., on Long Island just east of New York City.
(Tony Jones photo)
| ZOOM |
A paper doll that has traveled to England, Japan, the Pentagon and New York's Central Park is giving Oyler Elementary students a geography and writing lesson they'll never forget.

"It's gone beyond our wildest dreams," said Wanda Neville, coordinator of a mentoring program at the Cincinnati Public school.

Neville launched the project in March with the mentors and students of the Help One Student To Succeed (HOSTS) program. The project was so successful that Principal Craig Hockenberry expanded it to include all 625 students of the Lower Price Hill K-8 school.

The paper doll, whose name is Flat Stanley, originated from a 1964 book of the same name by Jeff Brown. The latest book in the series, Stanley, Flat Again, was released March 1.In the original, a bulletin board falls on Stanley during the night and flattens him. Stanley decides to use his flatness to do good deeds, such as making a daring rescue in a fallen building. In one adventure, he travels through the mail.

The book has become a phenomenon in classrooms across the nation, as students like those at Oyler mail Stanley with a letter they write and a blank journal to park rangers, governors, celebrities, relatives and regular people around the world.

At Oyler, Stanley has returned from places like England, where he visited a lady in waiting to Queen Elizabeth II, and Boise, Idaho, where he brought back candy made from potatoes.

A video of Flat Stanley in New York sent by the family of mentor Kevin Moran of Milford shows him visiting Rockefeller Center, the Empire State Building, Central Park and the subway.

STANLEY'S TRAVELS
A sampling of the places Flat Stanley has visited before returning to Oyler Elementary students:
United States
Seattle
Reno, Nevada
Santa Fe, N.M.
Denver
Helena, Mont.
Dallas
Dodge City, Kan.
Hot Springs, Ark.
Boston
New York
Detroit
Pierre, S.D.
Lincoln, Neb.
Jefferson City, Mo.
Nashville, Tenn.
Atlanta
Birmingham, Ala.
Key West, Fla.
Twin Falls, Idaho
Pineville, N.C.
Honolulu
Los Angeles
International
Tokyo
Hong Kong
Paris
Berlin
Sydney, Australia
Islamabad, Pakistan
Bern, Switzerland
Apia, Western Samoa
London
Kuwait City
Calgary, Alberta
Columbo, Sri Lanka
Reykjavik, Iceland
Baruun-Urt, Mongolia
Dunedin, New Zealand
Phnom Penh, Cambodia
Limerick, Ireland
Moscow
He was also photographed with U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld at the Pentagon and took a trip to Calgary, Alberta, where he received a white cowboy hat that is given to people new to the city to make them honorary Calgarians.

Stanley even brought back some sand and seashells from Jacksonville Beach in Florida.

Students, teachers and mentors talk about the places he travels and read the letters together.

The school has received more than 600 letters, brochures, souvenirs, maps and photos from around the world.

Nearly 700 Stanleys were sent out, with some students sending more than one.

Last week, packages from France, Ireland, Australia and Belgium awaited students.

"One of the most important things they're learning is geography," Hockenberry said. "Most of the kids haven't had the opportunity to travel and go many places."

They're also improving reading and writing skills, he said.

About two weeks ago, a letter arrived from Louisville. The letter writers took Stanley to Mexico, and second-grade teacher Eileen Barkey read the letter aloud in class.

"We loved talking to the Mexican children," she read to a circle of children, pointing to Mexico on a map. Stanley also visited a restaurant, but he thought the "Mexican food was a little hot and spicy for his taste."

Eight-year-old Floyd Robinson's Flat Stanley visited Navy Capt. T.L. McCreary, who took him to the Pentagon and a press briefing.

"He went to that thing where they speak when stuff is important," Floyd said. "It's fun to read the letters."

Bryan Middleton, 7, sent his Stanley to Georgia.

"This is a great thing," he said. "You get to write and get pictures. I like to go places and travel."

The best part, though, is obvious, he said.

"You get Flat Stanley back."

For more information, go online.

E-mail jmrozowski@enquirer.com




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