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Class learns geography in fun way
Forming a circle around first grader Holden Couturier, his classmates at St. Simons Elementary were awed as he turned the pages of a photo book Monday.

The photos from Montana featured a ski trip, a visit to a dinosaur museum and finally a tour of a massive ship, all played out in pictures.

Hunter wasn't in any of the photos, however. It was Flat Stanley - a small paper figure - who made the trip to Montana.

Based on a popular children's book from the 1960s, Flat Stanley has been touring the world for almost 20 years after a teacher in Canada started a program to give young students a glimpse of places they might not experience.

Each student in the first-grade class of Betsy Albright chose two locations on a world map where they might have a connection, whether it be with a family member or a friend. With some parental help, each child sent Flat Stanley on his way and awaited his return with photos and a new set of clothes.

People usually draw and color in clothing associated with Flat Stanley's destination.

From Goose Creek, S.C., all the way to Thailand, Albright's students got a real treat learning about the paper character's adventures. The students found out how warm it was in Thailand, how much it rained and snowed in Seattle, what places there are to visit in Washington, D.C., and even what a trip to France or Germany would entail.

Albright was able to use the Flat Stanley program to help her students in various subjects, including math, science, social studies, reading and writing.

"Now how many miles is it to Thailand?" she asked, with a response of 9,000 from the children. "And how far away is Goose Creek?"

The students exclaimed just three hours, but Lucas Whiddon chimed in with, "And two minutes!" The website Map Quest had been very specific, joked Albright.

"This allows the kids an opportunity to see new places, learn across the curriculum, and it's a personal project that they get to complete," she said. "We adults can step back and let them learn."

SBlt Reporter Sarah Lundgren writes about education and other local topics. Contact her at, on Facebook or at 265-8320, ext. 322.

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