View Full Version : Class Project -- Uke Around the World

dave alexander
08-17-2009, 07:14 AM
I'm a 4th grade teacher in Raleigh, North Carolina USA who would like to steal the Brotherhood of the Traveling Ukulele and make it a project for my students. I thought of using one of my ukes and shipping it to a ukulele player who would take pictures and play the uke, then send it on.

The students would track the location of the ukulele in the class by email. We'd make a full year project of it, so there's no hurry getting it back. I'd like to have it go clear "Round the World" but some problems are obvious:

1) Cost. I'd give anybody the $ to ship it on its next "leg" of the journey, but how much does it cost to send a uke from say, London to Istanbul? Beats me. It doesn't weigh much. Am I talking about hundreds of dollars?

2) Losing track of the thing. If I lose it, it would be a loss for the students. I would only care about the educational experience, not so much the actual uke.

3) Getting help from international ukulele players. I know we have lots of folks in the Pacific Islands, and the UK of course. Middle East? (I'm thinking of sending to a soldier in Iraq, then Afganistan.) What about Asia? Australia? South America? It would totally ROCK to send this to every continent except Antarctica. And if somebody has an idea about Antarctica, I'll listen.

Please let me know if this is a rotten idea. Honestly. It would be a whole lot easier to ship paper -- but a uke would be far better. Since the kids would play the ukulele before it ships out, it would be something they actually had a connection to.

Obviously my goal is increasing global awareness through ukulele playing.

Thanks for your advice:


08-17-2009, 09:35 AM
Nice idea, Dave. I've been involved in many Flat Stanley projects. "Uke Stanley". "Flat Ukely". Oh well, there's got to be something else to call it! Good luck, Dave. Ric

08-17-2009, 09:42 AM
It sounds like an awesome idea Dave!
I would be more than willing to represent Norway :)

08-17-2009, 09:54 AM
Great plan. I'll be honored to be part of it. Feel free to send it to Holland.

08-17-2009, 12:36 PM
It's an awesome idea! I'm only in Oregon, but would be happy to receive/send it on! We have members all around the world - I know we could get it to Japan and Korea for sure; I think there's somebody in Thailand - what fun!

08-17-2009, 01:33 PM
This is a good idea. I never thought of this. I teach fifth grade in georgia and I have 6 ukers in my class. We would love to be the first stop. Hint hint. I'd send it on out of my own pocket.

dave alexander
08-17-2009, 02:04 PM
Thanks for the encouragement. I'm writing to UPS and FEDEX about shipping. Each company brags about being able to locate/track their packages, and paying from here for needed overseas shipping should be easy. I was thinking about local post offices, and really didn't consider big corporate shippers.

For those who didn't get the earlier reference to Flat Stanley, a chidren's book features Stanley -- who is flattened to paper thin by a bulletin board, and whose parents mail him off. Teachers and kids around the world draw this character, and basically I stole the idea for a uke.

Come to think of it, the only original idea I've had today was to involve y'all.

Thanks for the ideas. My wife says it'll be too expensive.

08-17-2009, 02:06 PM
there is starting to be a nice contingent of ukers in carolina. Do i sense a NC/SC uke meet up near Greenville?

08-17-2009, 02:23 PM
there is starting to be a nice contingent of ukers in carolina. Do i sense a NC/SC uke meet up near Greenville?

What I'm sensing is a growing number of UUers who teach elementary school and have uke classes or clubs that they teach.

Haolejohn, what with school starting before we know it, maybe now would be a good time for someone (hint, hint!) to start a thread in Uke Talk pertaining to Elementary School Uke Clubs. You guys could be networking on UU and comparing notes....

BTW, have you guys seen ukeyes.com? (I think I got that right) It's an internet e-zine for people who teach ukulele in elementary settings. Just a thought....

08-17-2009, 05:01 PM
Keep researching the postage costs. I've mailed things to Europe and the Caribbean and USPS is the cheapest by far. For the caribbean package I sent an ukulele from Minnesota to St. Thomas, US VI. It was about $11 with insurance included. I was surprised.

Also, if you need a signature from Minnesota, I'm willing.

08-17-2009, 07:02 PM
For a great cause like that, I'd cover the cost of shipping it on to its next stop - I bet a lot of others would, too...

08-18-2009, 12:56 AM
Id be happy to represent New Zealand!

im a new primary teacher and i think that its a great idea. If u were able to do it im sure my kids would love to get amongst a photo with the uke. I hope it works out!

Ronnie Aloha
08-18-2009, 04:48 AM
I'd be willing to contribute to a fund to help you send it around the world. By the way, I know of some soldiers serving in Afghanistan who are from Hawaii and they would be more than willing to do that leg for you.

08-18-2009, 07:58 AM
See? All you have to do is ask around here and things happen. UU rocks!

08-18-2009, 11:56 AM
For those who didn't get the earlier reference to Flat Stanley, a chidren's book features Stanley -- who is flattened to paper thin by a bulletin board, and whose parents mail him off. Teachers and kids around the world draw this character, and basically I stole the idea for a uke.

My wife says it'll be too expensive.

Here's an idea that will cost NO MONEY (keeping your lovely bride happy) and can be shared by ukulele players around the globe by E-MAIL!!!

There are many artists in the Ukulele Underground that can make us a "Flat Aldy" (line drawing of Aldrine). Members of the Ukulele Underground can take pictures videos, along with writing stories of their ukulele adventures with our very own Rockstar Flat Aldy! This will allow more Ukulele Underground members to be involved and will give you the largest response. Maybe you can hold a contest to see who draws the best "Flat Aldy" line drawing, using the Ukulele Moderators as judges! It needs to be a line drawing that fits on an 8.5" by 11" sheet of paper, so Dave's class can color it in. Dave will then scan it and post it right here on the Ukulele Underground, so we can post our photos, videos and stories of "Flat Aldy's Adventures". Any ideas, Undergrounders?!

To give our artists an idea of what a Flat Stanley is:


Here is a not yet "Flat Aldy" photo to work with that was taken by our very own zdiver:


08-18-2009, 12:19 PM
Now, how did Aldy get flattened by a Giant Ukulele?!



dave alexander
08-18-2009, 03:22 PM
Very good ideas. Yes, UU rocks. I'm waiting to hear from UPS.

08-18-2009, 03:41 PM
Very good ideas. Yes, UU rocks. I'm waiting to hear from UPS.

UPS? What is this UPS you speak of? Don't you mean to say USPS? (They don't call me "mailman" for nothing....) ;)

08-18-2009, 04:06 PM
Wow, I never noticed how much Aldymon really resembles Flat Stanley, heck just slap a fedora on Stanley and you're good to go... :D

BTW, Ya'll should chill on offering donations before the Mods clamp down on this thread. Not trying to be a kill joy...but you know it is only a matter of time...

Awesome idea for a class project though :D

08-18-2009, 05:08 PM
DeG your wisdom is beyond your years. I remember last year I "met" you and others who came to my defense in a thread people started offering donations in. The mods were quick to shut it down.

08-18-2009, 05:51 PM
Some cool ideas. I recently became friends with a young person via the web- in Western Siberia, Russia. He is in the 3rd largest Russian city, Novokazvetsk. He just sent me a a copy of his class picture with the teacher and students. It would be so cool having them hold the ukulele and have a picture taken. However, I would be concerned with losing control and contact with the ukulele.

Another idea - maybe not as dramatic - is to do this worldwide but with the ukulele underground sticker/logo. Ideally, have a person holding the sticker near a historic marker/site. We could have all these worldwide pictures uploaded to UU and youtube. Would make a neat youtube vid with some seeso type skills to add some music and magic and make a real production out of it.

Just thinking . . .

08-18-2009, 06:02 PM
Id be happy to represent New Zealand!

Me too. As for Antarctica... well... I know a girl :rolleyes: who is heading out there. I wouldn't trust her with the uke, but I could maybe ask her to ask around for some fun sounding people down there...

There's always this guy (http://mananath.livejournal.com/497549.html) :D (instructions for mailing him (http://mananath.livejournal.com/444297.html))

Ronnie Aloha
08-18-2009, 08:13 PM
I'd be willing to contribute to a fund to help you send it around the world. By the way, I know of some soldiers serving in Afghanistan who are from Hawaii and they would be more than willing to do that leg for you.

Here is one of some local girls serving overseas. I think they have the 29th Brigade patch on.


Jim X-S
08-18-2009, 08:56 PM
Well it is currently 90 below zero fahrenheit at Amundsen-Scott Antarctic station right at the south pole. According to this link: http://www.wunderground.com/cgi-bin/findweather/getForecast?query=Amundsen-Scott%20South%20Pole%20Station&wuSelect=WEATHER

Flights there I think re-start in November. But that is right at the South Pole as you probably know. Might be kind of tricky getting something that works well. I believe that during their summer season crews change and imagine it would be prime time for something like this to get lost. I have this link kicking around in my bookmarks: http://www.southpolestation.com/links.html

McMurdo station might work well for you and this project. According to Wikipedia they even have an ATM machine. I seem to have read someone's blog about taking a cruise from Ushuaia, Tierra del Fuego, Argentina to the Antarctica like in March. So might very well have regular mail service to McMurdo station all year round.

There are Antarctic stations by other countries as well.

It's a great sounding project. Your students are very fortunate to have such a teacher I think.

Have a Great Day,

08-18-2009, 09:05 PM
That is an awesome idea. We need more involved teachers like you. It would be cool if you could arrange the last stop in Hawaii, before the uke makes it's way back home to you. Kind of like coming home, before coming home.

dave alexander
08-19-2009, 02:15 AM
Ok, it's gonna happen some way. Don't anybody get us in trouble by promising anything except ideas.

Mailman - You are right, I could ship by regular post office, but are the regular post offices reliable around the world?
If I ship only to UU members or responsible buddies of UU members I won't lose track of it. And the shipping companies are totally into real time tracking, so if I can use them worldwide, it won't get lost. (If it does get lost, it's a minor loss. The one I'm sending isn't over-the-top valuable.)

I think I may decide on 10 "jumps" outside the US just because of the cost involved. I don't want to leave anybody out, but each leg of the journey costs. (Assuming that a shipping company doesn't step up.)

Thanks for the interest and ideas. I'll nail down plans within the week.


08-19-2009, 07:21 AM
FYI the express mail postage from Chuck Moore in Pahoa Hawaii to my office in New Hampshire was $70. The box arrived unblemished at 8 am, Chuck sent it two days earlier in the afternoon - with the six-hour time change it got here in roughly 36 hours.

With a hardshell case, some good packaging that can be re-used multiple times, a slower postal method should work fine. The expensive hops are the ones over the Atlantic/Pacific. Once on land, the postal rates should be pretty reasonable. You just need to be sure the recipients will take care of the postage and the customs duty should it be levied. Given the responses, I think it's a safe bet.

good luck!

dave alexander
08-21-2009, 02:52 AM
A great thing happened last night. At Parent Night I learned that one of my children has relatives in Africa. The relative is with an international health organisation which sends people all over the globe. Some of them might hand carry the uke to exotic locations.

At least one other student has relatives ouside the US. I'm going to send out a note Tuesday to see which other parents could help out by way of relatives who live far away. Grandmas and Grandpas will help out with some of the "jumps." I may actually end up sending it to my own parents -- since the kids will get a kick out of that.

A neighbor has a good friend who is involved in military logistics, and who travels a lot.

Anyone who wants to "host" the uke who hasn't chimed in, let me know. Those in the US will probably be shipping to US addresses. I'll map out a strategy, but some of this will probably be "on the fly." If somebody is taking a vacation, and we can work the uke into an overland trip or cruise, that would be cool. School teachers who want the uke to go to their school, or who have ideas, please PM me or email me at

davidalexander@johnston.k12.nc.us or traderdave@curtismedia.com

In fact anybody with ideas beyond what we've discussed here, use those addresses. I'll put together an email group, and take the discussion off the forum for a few weeks.

Thanks for the interest.