By Joan Whitson
Early Literacy Outreach Manager, Early Learning Coalition of North Florida 

Flora and the Flamingo Make Their Debut in North Florida


August 1, 2019 | View PDF

The Early Learning Coalition of North Florida’s (ELC) outreach team debuted their new music and movement literacy program in pre-schools this past spring and summer in Clay and Baker Counties. They will expand the program to include Bradford, Putnam, Nassau and St. Johns Counties starting in September. The program, geared to 3-5 year olds, is meant to highlight the importance of music and movement as it pertains to a child’s learning and development.

Books like “Rupert Can Dance” by Jules Feiffer, “Down by the Cool of the Pool” by Tony Mitten and “Flora and the Flamingo” by Molly Idle are highlighted during this program. During the reading of Flora and the Flamingo one of the ELC volunteers dresses up as the flamingo then picks a child from the class they are visiting to join them in acting out the story. Whatever dance movement the flamingo does, Flora copies it. The children get to dance to different kinds of music and make music with bells.

Exposing children to the arts at a young age is very important to building their creativity. Dance can have a powerful impact in children’s daily lives because it is both a physical activity and a vehicle for self-expression. It offers the rich experience of exploring and creating, with the added benefits of lively movement. Learning to dance or play and instrument builds confidence which is so important to early child development.

Research shows that movement and exercise can spark the growth of new brain cells and facilitate learning. In his book Spark: “The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain” Ratey states, “Exercise and movement improves learning on three levels: first, it optimizes your mind-set to improve alertness, attention, and motivation; second it prepares and encourages nerve cells to bind to one another, which is the cellular basis for logging in new information; and third, it spurs the development of new nerve cells.

Using creative movement is a great medium for working with children as a group. It is one of the best ways for children to learn the social skills needed for working together. A teacher can offer movement tasks and problems for children to solve individually: “How many ways can you move from sitting to standing?” “How many ways can you make a big curve like the letter C with your body? And as a group: “Imagine we are back in the days of the dinosaurs. What would we see? Can you move like Pterodactyl?

The ELC volunteer outreach team regularly puts on themed literacy programs in local childcare centers and preschool classrooms. The goal of these programs is to expose children to quality literature and to teach important topics that children need to learn. The children receive a FREE book relating to the theme of the program and the classroom receives a bag of teaching resources and books to further teach the topic at a later time.

For more information about volunteering contact Joan Whitson, Early Literacy Outreach Manager at [email protected]

or 904-342-2267.

The ELC provides child care assistance to families who meet certain income requirements and who are working or going back to school. This school readiness program is designed to increase a child’s chance of achieving future educational success.

The ELC also administers and manages Florida’s FREE VPK (voluntary pre-kindergarten program for four-year-olds).

For more information about the Early Learning Coalition of North Florida and its other programs and services, please visit, or call 904-342-2267.

Our mission is to serve parents, caregivers, and educators of children by managing and evaluating early childhood education programs through a quality school readiness delivery system in North Florida.

Address: 2450 Old Moultrie Road, Ste. 103, St. Augustine, FL 32086

Phone: 904-342-2267 Fax: 904-342-2268 • E-mail: [email protected]

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