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Sonoma Community Center hosts classes for kids 5 and under

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The Sonoma Community Center has launched a new “Fun for Five and Under” program, created for young families in Sonoma Valley.

The class series, which begins Friday, Oct. 11, will present music, movement and drama classes for parents and children 5 and under.

The “Fun for Five and Under” program was designed to meet the needs of local families looking for creative ways to entertain and educate young children.

In response, the Sonoma Community Center created a consortium of educators, including participants from the Sonoma Ballet Conservatory, Sonoma Theatre Alliance and Sonoma State University, to develop this new early arts education series.

The consortium was guided by the knowledge that arts education provides long-term benefits to young children. “Real time play through the arts impacts children tremendously and positively,” said Nancy Morales, professor of Spanish at Sonoma State University. “It has profound effects on their emotional, social and cognitive abilities.”

Birth to 5 years old also mark a critical phase for language learning, when children are enhancing their learning capabilities. “Just exposing children to sounds and sound systems at this age gives them a higher likelihood for acquiring other languages like a native speaker,” she said.

Beginning Friday, Oct. 11, SCC will offer Exploradores, a mommy-and-me-style class led in Spanish for parents and children 3- to 5-years-old. Together, participants will explore the Spanish language through song, dance, music and play. Exploradores will meet Fridays through Nov. 15 from 9:45 to 10:30 a.m. at community center.

Second in the series is a new Storybook Soundtrack class created by instructor Kathryn del Chiaro.

Inspired by children following favorite stories and apps on an iPhone, she created a class to bring these stories to life. Del Chiaro will lead story time each week and invite kids to add their own soundtrack with music, song and movement.

Storybook Soundtrack will run from Saturday, Oct. 19 to Nov. 23, from 10 to 11 a.m. Del Chiaro is a theater arts director who brings 25 years experience working with parents and children. She has worked with Sonoma Ballet Conservatory Theatre, served as a drama coach at Altimira Middle School and produced and directed shows for Sonoma Theatre Alliance.

Jaime Love, executive director of the Sonoma Theatre Alliance, will offer Exploring Movement through the Senses for children ages 2 to 5.

Under her guidance, children will explore sight, smell, touch and sound using movement, drama and the creative costume grab bag.

Exploring Movement will be held Saturdays, Jan. 11 to Feb. 15 from 10 to 11 a.m. Love is a graduate of the American Academy of Arts and has been acting, directing and writing for the past 30 years.

She has taught summertime drama camps in Sonoma as well as prior creative movement classes at SCC.

Krissy Marchus will teach Dance from Around the World, introducing children to music from all over the world and dances in ballet, modern, jazz, West African and Latin styles.

Dance from Around the World will meet Thursdays, Jan. 16 to Feb. 20, from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. Marchus holds a bachelor’s of fine arts in dance from Boston Conservatory and a master’s degree in dance education with high honors from UCLA. A certified yoga teacher, she teaches dance, drama and yoga for the Napa Unified School District.

Making Music will get the beat in your child’s feet in a unique class that creates music through movement. Using a special instrument each day, children will learn about music, creative expression and coordination, all while having fun. Making Music will be taught by Del Chiaro and will be held Mondays beginning Jan. 27 from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m.

This program is made possible by funding from the Sonoma Valley Vintners and Growers Foundation.

All classes will be held at Sonoma Community Center, which is located at 276 E. Napa St., Sonoma.

To register or request more information about financial aid for these classes, visit sonomacommunitycenter.org or call 938-4626, ext. 1.