He may be two-dimensional, but Flat Stanley offers a Crotched Mountain classroom three dimensions of fun and learning.
Amanda Meltzer’s vocation-focused classroom at Crotched Mountain School is a bastion of activity where students learn life skills that can translate into jobs or volunteer opportunities in the community.When the students aren’t out and about, they’re typically up to something creative as a group.
An ongoing activity that’s been a staple of Amanda’s crew has been the Flat Stanley Project. Originally published in 1964, Flat Stanley by Jeff Brown tells the playfully morbid tale of a young boy named Stanley Porkchop who is inadvertently flattened by a giant bulletin board and proceeds to go on various adventures in his newly pressed two-dimensional reality. His new-found lack of girth allows him to travel the globe just by sliding himself into an envelope and having his brother drop him into the mail.
Hey, it was the ‘60s. Things were…different then.
THE FLAT STANLEY PROJECT
In 1995, a school teacher from Canada named Dale Hubert started something called The Flat Stanley Project. After reading the book together, the class would create their own Flat Stanley paper cutouts and mail them away to far-flung corners of the globe or send them off with friends or family, who return with photographic evidence of all the places Stanley has journeyed.
For her class, Amanda tweaked the Flat Stanley Project to make it unique — to make it Crotched Mountain. They read the book and students made their paper cutouts, honing fine motor skills while cutting and coloring, and dispatched their Stanleys from the Crotched Mountain summit in Greenfield.
“The Flat Stanley Project allows students to practice life skills while learning about world geography and having a lot of fun at the same time.”
Just as so many other students have for over two decades, Amanda’s class enlists willing sojourners (friends and family of staff and students) to take Stanley with them and, more importantly, to send back pictures.
And the photos have poured in, placing Crotched Mountain Flat Stanley at places all over the globe–from One Patriot Place to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue (really) and even to the foot of Mount Everest.
LEARNING FROM STANLEY
As these pictures make it back to the 03047 zip code, Amanda and her para-educators lead the class in activities and learning opportunities connected to the destinations Stanley has visited. Did Stanley visit Maine? A blueberry muffin baking activity is in order. Or how about his trip to Mr. Mac’s restaurant in nearby Manchester? Macaroni and cheese for everyone!
As varied as these pursuits may be, they are all linked by a common approach: to help the students–most of whom possess some of the more significant disabilities at Crotched Mountain School–achieve and hone their daily living skills, with an ultimate goal of preparing everyone to be as independent as possible.
“We want to give our students these practical life skills,” Amanda says. “And the Flat Stanley Project allows us to do that while they learn about world geography and have a lot of fun at the same time.”