Often in our schooling, I find myself working hard to remember and actively teach our “middle” students! This year, we have worked together with another family once a week to join forces on several subjects we wanted to teach our different aged students, and I loved having some focused time with our “middles.”
To have a direction of study, we chose to use the Flat Stanley unit study published by Blackbird & Company. We’ve enjoyed the Flat Stanley books with our older kids, and when we discovered this study we thought it would be fun to do with our early elementary students. My son is seven, and we taught the unit with him and his friends, siblings 5 and 8.
I loved Blackbird’s Exploring Poetry unit, and was looking forward to exploring this one. At the same time we received it, we discovered the Flat Stanley project, which involves kids sending letters and pictures to far away places and sharing his adventure.
The book itself is recommended for grades 1-3, so it was right on for readability and subject appropriate for the group we worked with. To be honest, though, I found the literature guide to be a bit off-putting for our students in this age. It’s primarily a workbook that includes literary analysis (which I firmly believe in as important), but the repetition and dryness of the format left us doing much more oral discussion as our younger students weren’t up to the amount of writing required. Instead, I used the questions as a discussion guide, and our students did a hands-on scrapbook of Stanley’s adventures using cameras and the custom Stanley figures they created (along with that of Salvatore, the made-up cousin grandma took on her Vegas trip!).
In addition, I felt the level of analysis attempted and the length of study expected was stretching it a bit for the length and content of the Flat Stanley book. It could have easily been read aloud to the students in one or two sittings, and it felt like it was more than stretching it out to keep them waiting through the number of assignments in the curriculum.
In all, I am impressed greatly with Blackbird, but felt that this particular unit tried to do too much with the level of book that is Flat Stanley. It would be a great several-page discussion starter, but for our personal use, at $16 for the study and $20 for the study with book, it is not a cost or time-effective investment for this age of student or “literature.” Rather, I would have preferred to see a more streamlined selection of analysis questions combined with hands-on activities so needed for this age group.
-You can find Angela blogging at Dancing with my Father.