Flat Stanley Visits the Phillips

Flat Stanley is a book project about a paper doll who travels the world. For years, students have been creating their own Flat Stanleys and sending them to family, friends, and relatives across the globe.

A friend of mine is a second grade teacher in California, and she decided to use the Flat Stanley project as a way to teach her students the language arts standard of writing a friendly letter. Each of her students created their own Flat Stanley and mailed him to someone in a faraway place along with a letter explaining his likes and dislikes.

I got my Flat Stanley from Sebastian, who instructed me to show him around my hometown and to document our adventures. In addition to showing him the iconic buildings and monuments of Washington, D.C., I brought Flat Stanley to the Phillips to show him some of the wonderful artwork we have in our collection. I think his favorite painting may have been van Gogh’s The Road Menders, but it seems he enjoyed Luncheon of the Boating Party as well.

Natalie Mann, School, Outreach, and Family Programs Coordinator

Flat Stanley visits the U.S. Capitol Building. Photo: Natalie Mann

Natalie MannFlat Stanley visits the U.S. Capitol Building. Photo: Natalie Mann

Flat Stanley with his favorite painting by van Gogh. Photo: Natalie Mann

Flat Stanley with his favorite painting by van Gogh. Photo: Natalie Mann

Flat Stanley strikes a pose with Renoir's masterpiece. Photo: Natalie Mann

Flat Stanley strikes a pose with Renoir’s masterpiece. Photo: Natalie Mann

Teachers Take a Field Trip

Teacher Mary Ellen McCabe paints in the art workshop. Photo: Sue Ahn

Teacher Karen Johnson sketches in the dining room gallery. Photo: Sue Ahn

Since 2005, The Phillips Collection has solicited k-12 educators to be part of the museum’s Mentor Teacher Program, which enables best-practice school teachers to partner with the Phillips to produce and publish inventive lessons that weave museum artwork and visual arts learning into school curriculum. This past Monday, the museum hosted 45 teachers from Stafford Elementary School in Northern Virginia. The museum experience was a professional day dedicated to learning how art can inspire learning across the curriculum. Led by a four-person cross-curricular teaching team who first worked with the museum in 2006, teachers created watercolors that combined artistic imagination and scientific observation, made sketches in the galleries, and learned how to integrate the teaching of math, social studies, and language arts into studying and creating visual art.

Karen Johnson’s watercolor on the drying rack. Photo: Sue Ahn

Teaching through the Prism: What Does Arts Integration Look Like?

This is the second installment in the Teaching through the Prism series, anticipating our upcoming national forum on Arts Integration, June 23−24. Read Suzanne’s first post here.


Next week at our Teaching through the Prism of Arts Integration Forum, we’ll be screening a brand new video featuring our year-long project, Teach with O’Keeffe, working with art museums and classroom teachers from New York to New Mexico, and of course Washington, DC. Seeing the experiences of the students (“If I have a connection to something visual… then I will enjoy it,”), teachers (“Arts Integration peaks student interest,”) and administrators (“I believe that art brings out critical thinking,”) emphasizes what we’ve noticed about the impact of arts across the curriculum: it encourages innovative teaching, deepens personalized learning, promotes learning through multiple learning styles, and advances 21st century skills such as creativity, critical thinking and problem solving.

My favorite line of the movie: Erin Fitzgerald, a middle-school language arts teacher from New York City says, “Arts Integration. It’s not an add-on!” She really knocks it out!

Suzanne Wright, Director of Education