A Visit From Flat Stanley

“Adventure is worthwhile.”
~Amelia Earhart

Children around the world are familiar with Flat Stanley and his adventures. For the past week I’ve been privileged to have a Flat Stanley visit me from Lombard, Illinois. It is about time for him to return home. I hope he had an eventful stay.

Personal Photo - Flat Stanley & his new friend staying warm by a bonfire ON the lake.

The highlight of his trip was attending the Winter Games at the University of Okoboji! This event dates back to 1981. I have visited the Iowa Great Lakes numerous time throughout my life. Many favorite childhood vacations were spent at the Lakes. Now as an adult I’m fortunate to have a very good friend living in the area. I’ve come to appreciate visiting the Lakes during each season of the year, winter being the most unusual. Most of the adults that Flat Stanley and I met had never heard of “Flat Stanley.” We were excited to meet one young boy who knew the story well! Flat Stanley was a little nervous of the bonfire the group was using to keep warm. Our new friend was very careful not to get Stanley too close to the flames!

Personal Photo - Lake Okoboji in the summer!

In the summer months the Lakes are a hub for vacationers and the locals alike. Boating, sailing, jet skiing, tubing, fishing and swimming are favorite past times.  The lazy days of summer and fall are followed by winter. The open waters and the freezing temperatures in Iowa do not mix. Soon the Lakes become quite frozen and a new set of activities are known to take place; ice fishing, snowmobiling, snow shoeing, cross-country skiing, etc… While I understand that water begins to freeze at 32 degrees, it is still hard for me to comprehend the transformation of the lake.

Personal Photo - Flat Stanley & I "walking on water."

Just as most of the summer fun activities, the Winter Games take place ON the LAKE. My visiting Flat Stanley was in awe of what he saw. Thousands of people, cars, trucks, large ice houses, warming tents and snowmobilers gathered ON the once blue waters. Summer apparel changed to layers, upon layers of winter clothing. Come rain or shine, snow and frigid temperatures, the Lakes are a place to gather with good friends and enjoy each day, no matter the circumstances.

Everyday occurrences typically bring about a state of reflection, and this situation was no different. So what did this experience have to offer Flat Stanley and I?

  • Just because change can be difficult, doesn’t mean it can’t be fun along the way. If we’d only have thought the Lakes could hold adventures in the summer season we wouldn’t have been open to new adventures and learning in other seasons. The field of education, just like all other fields, is in a constant state of change, improvements, and transformations. A positive attitude goes a long ways!
  • While it was difficult to take the first few steps on the frozen lake, the encouragement and confidence of others paved the way. Educators, and students alike, need to continually be encouraged to take risks. A supportive learning environment that provides a sense of risk taking can bring about a deeper levels of learning.
  • Understanding a variety of perspectives brings a greater understanding of the world around us. The activity on the Lake was a collage of unique strengths and passions. For some, this was just a way of life. For others like myself, it was a new learning adventure. Guiding our students to reach beyond the classroom walls to gain new perspectives brings an increase in student engagement, motivation and collaboration. Student interests and abilities shine. A new sense of personal inquiry to learning emerges. This learning becomes authentic with real life reasons to explore new ideas and problems.

This year’s walk on the lake was more comforting than my first encounter at the Winter Games in 2009. My friend seems to think parasailing is on our upcoming summer “to do list.” I’ve now mustered up the courage to walk on a frozen lake. Looks like I have a few more months to gain the confidence of viewing the Lakes from another vantage point. I have no doubt I’ll have more to reflect on!

Enjoy a few photos of Flat Stanley’s stay.

Create your own video slideshow at animoto.com.


  • Aviva (@grade1) 5 Feb

    Another great post, Kathy! I love visits with Flat Stanley too, and it sounds like he had a great visit with you. Love your reflections on the learning you got out of this visit too!


    • Kathy Perret 5 Feb

      Thanks, Aviva! I’d still like to show Flat Stanley around town. Not sure I’ll get that accomplished. The Flat Stanley projects are always a great way for kids to learn about other places.


  • Denise Krebs 5 Feb

    What a nice tribute to Flat Stanley. I’m sure his friend in Illinois is going to be proud to have so much media published about him. Good job, Kathy!

    • Kathy Perret 5 Feb

      Thanks! Yes, Flat Stanley is moving into the 21st Century. I’ve been emailing pictures and messages. Figured a blog post was another good way to show some of his adventures.


  • Joan Young 6 Feb

    How fun Kathy! Thanks for sharing the learning aspects of spending time with Flat Stanley. It makes me wonder if kids would also do things and take risks they wouldn’t normally take when bolstered by the companionship of this character. Thanks for inspiring thoughts and conversation as always. I enjoyed this post!

    • Kathy Perret 6 Feb

      Thanks, Joan. I love your question! I hadn’t thought of it that way! But, the real Flat Stanley and his family were risk takers. Sending a child on a vacation, whether by mail or plane takes risks and builds confidence. We have many lessons to learn from Flat Stanley!


Comments are closed.