Cards Learn Culture

NEW BREMEN — He can be called flat, but his adventures are anything but one-dimensional.

Third-graders at New Bremen Elementary are receiving letters from around the world from their globe-trotting friend Flat Stanley, part of a project teacher Jenny Perryman said teaches letter writing, map skills and cultural understanding.

The project begins with reading a book about a character named Flat Stanley. According to Caden Puthoff, in the book Stanley is accidentally flattened at a friend’s house, then sent off in an envelope to visit his friend in California after discovering it is cheaper to travel by mail than airplane.

“He got flattened by a bulletin board,” Victoria Solorzano said.

The book series follows Stanley’s adventures and provides a Stanley for students to cut out and mail.

“We each colored our own Flat Stanley,” Margaret Hirschfeld said.

Some students colored as many as ten Stanley characters. On the back is a letter written by the teachers explaining the project and giving a little information about New Bremen.

Then the students started collecting addresses, trying to find people as far away as possible to mail their characters to.

Trevor Bergman sent his to Arizona, while Tate Roetgerman sent it to an uncle in China and Katie Fleming sent hers to cousins in California.

“I sent my Stanley to Hawaii to my aunt’s aunt,” Gabi Heckman said. “She sent back pictures of Hawaii.”

Grant Wilker’s aunt travels to Washington, DC, and was able to get a picture of Stanley at the White House. Lily Erb’s Stanley has already been to New York, and may go to England.

Mara Brackman sent her Stanley to a friend in California, who took a picture of Stanley on a double decker bus.

The letter asks people to describe their weather, what people wear, and the kind of jobs people work in the area. Then people are asked to send something back from where they are and to send Stanley on his journey.

Perryman said many people write back letters of what they did with Stanley, where others go so far as to write back from his perspective. Tuesday, students received chocolate from Germany, one of Stanley’s more recent adventures. Stanley has even had a picture taken at the podium used by the President of the United States to give speeches.

The third-graders ask every few days about what they get in the mail, and appreciate the gifts from around the world.

“One of the things I really liked, we got a lot of pencils that were souvenirs,” Janelle Hagen said.

Perryman said one important part of the lesson is about letter writing. In a world full of electronic devices, many students have never mailed anything before, and their parents rarely mail things, so they often don’t know how to address a letter.

The other lesson it teaches is tolerance.

“Sometimes they think that in China everyone walks around in traditional clothing,” Perryman said. “This teaches them different cultures, but also that people are really like us.”