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Brian Nicholson, Deseret Morning News
Children wave their hands in the air during a Music and Movement class designed to help them with their reading skills at the Pleasant Grove Library.

PLEASANT GROVE — A group of Utah County youngsters are putting the beat in their feet as they learn music, rhythm and movement.

The Pleasant Grove Library offers a popular program designed for kids, ages 3-6, that helps them learn more about music and even helps them prepare for reading.

"The purpose of the class is to have fun, but the side benefits include some rhythmic activities," said Music and Movement class instructor Diane Kukahiko. "And the rhythms of music are very reinforcing with the rhythms of language."

The class activities include chanting, rhythmic percussion, movement, auditory response and many other exercises that help hand, eye and ear coordination.

"It is a six-week class, so we are not comprehensive, but these are some of the things that we do which relate to reading skills," said Kukahiko, who earned a music degree from the University of Utah.

The program has been offered three times a year for five years now and continues to become more and more popular among parents in the area.

For Tamsen Boley, a Cedar Hills resident who brings her 4-year-old daughter, Maura, to the class, the reading aspect is important, but the class offers even more than that.

"We love music, it is such a big part of our family atmosphere and activities, so I knew this would be a good fit for her," she said. "(Maura) is quite an active kid, and she likes to be around other children, so I wanted an atmosphere where she could be around other kids and do some of these fun activities."

When she became interested in starting the class, Kukahiko, who is a member of library staff, approached the library director about it and received nothing but support.

The library charges $5 per participant in the class, but because of its popularity, each 35-minute session is limited to 12 students.

Pleasant Grove resident Naomi Christiansen heard about the class and has now enrolled her son, Max.

"He is very excited about it, and I know it is quite popular," said Christiansen. "I know some of the kids have done it a few times, but this is our first time in the program."

The parents gather outside the room to watch their kids participate, but clearly it is the kids who have the most fun.

"We move our feet to the beat, we do the sticks and we sing 'Hickory Dickory Dock,"' said a smiling, 4-year-old Max Christiansen.

Reactions like Max's are why Kukahiko and her advisers have continued to offer the course.

"It has been a very fun class to teach, and we get a lot of positive feedback from parents about it being a fun class to take," she said.

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