Flat Stanley’s Worldwide Adventures #3: The Japanese Ninja Surprise Teaching Guide

Discover mysterious Japan with your students from ninjas and volcanoes to tea ceremonies and high-speed train travel. Use the teaching resources provided below to bring Japanese culture, history, and geography into your classroom.

About the Book

Ever since Stanley was flattened by a bulletin board, he has been able to do things that no one else can. In this third book in Flat Stanley’s Worldwide Adventures, Stanley mails himself to Japan as fan mail for his favorite samurai warrior, Master Oda Nobu. Oda Nobu makes Stanley his personal ninja and introduces him to Japanese culture, including such things as tea ceremonies, origami, and the bullet train. When four mysterious ninjas kidnap Oda Nobu, Stanley must use ninjutsu—the art of stealth—to save his beloved hero.

Comprehension and Discussion Questions

  • Name five aspects of Japanese culture that Stanley experiences on his trip, thinking about the foods he eats, clothes he wears, and places he visits. Which things would you most want to see and do on a trip to Japan?
  • What does Stanley learn about the geography of Japan? What do you think is the most unusual aspect of Japan’s geography?
  • In Chapter 5, Oda Nobu says that he and Stanley are both “different.” What does Oda Nobu mean? How has being different affected Oda Nobu? How has it affected Stanley?
  • What does Stanley consider to be the most and least enjoyable parts of fame? How does Oda Nobu feel about fame? If you were famous, what do you think you’d like most and least about it and why?
  • At the end of the book, Oda Nobu sends Stanley a photograph of himself in a class. What type of class is he taking? Why do you think Oda Nobu chooses to take this class?

Extension Activities

  • Knowledge Eruption. Present your class with information about Japan’s volcanoes, including such facts as location, elevation, and dates of eruptions. Then assist your students in creating an illustrated encyclopedia entry for each volcano. Bind the entries together and have your class design an eye-catching cover for its encyclopedia.
  • Faster than a Speeding Bullet Train. With your class, study Japan’s Shinkansen—the country’s high-speed rail system. Where do the tracks run? What kinds of trains travel on the tracks? How fast do the trains travel? How safe are the trains? Which other countries have or plan to have similar high-speed rail systems? Help your students develop a multimedia presentation to introduce others to the Shinkansen.
  • Ninjas on Tour. Ask students to collect information on the role ninjas have played in Japanese history, as well as information on their dress, weapons, training, and lifestyle. Have students design their own ninja costumes and create a group oral presentation on the history and importance of ninjas. Take your class’s presentation on the road to edify and delight other classrooms.
  • A Very Cherry Festival. In Chapter 6, Oda Nobu tells Stanley about the annual Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington, DC, which includes many Japanese cultural events. With your students, collect information on the National Cherry Blossom Festival. Make cherry trees using construction paper for your classroom and prepare several Japanese cultural events, such as a tea ceremony, a karate demonstration, or even a karaoke sing-along. Then celebrate the friendship between the United States and Japan with your own Cherry Blossom Festival.

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Teaching guide prepared by Laura Williams McCaffrey, a library consultant and children’s book author, East Montpelier, Vermont.


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Art by Macky Pamintuan. Based on the character, stories, and adventures of Flat Stanley created by the late Jeff Brown.
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