May 2017
Director's Corner
 
 
It has been a very busy and fun time at UCDC this past month with Teacher Appreciation Week, the plant sale, our PAUS event and the Week of the Young Child.

With your help and support, we had a lovely Teacher Appreciation Week. Families really came together to honor the teachers and show their appreciation for the many things that the teachers have done throughout the year.  I cannot thank you enough for all that you did during Teacher Appreciation Week!

Also with your help and support, we were able to have one of our most successful plant sale fundraiser ever, raising close to $1600.  I appreciate your support in buying plants for your home and a huge thank you to the parents that sold to co-workers, friends and families.  We had some very large orders!  The plants were once again beautiful and healthy and everyone who purchased them seemed quite pleased with their choices.  I also ordered extra plants and they all sold as well!  We will use some of the money raised to make some upgrades and changes to the infant toddler gym and we will purchase new books for our library. Thank you for your patience in the parking lot during the "pick-up" portion of the sale.  I also appreciate your support of our request to park in the church lot or on the street.  Overall, I think it worked out well and we will probably hold the pickup date on a Friday again next year.  Thank you to the parents who were able to help us unload the truck and fill orders. Also, a big thanks to the staff and teachers that gave up their break time to come and help out!  We couldn't have done it without you!

On Thursday April 27th, we welcomed over 60 educators and staff from our PAUS partner schools (CMU, Falk and Carlow) to UCDC for our evening partner event.  UCDC staff and teachers spent many hours preparing a wonderful variety of activities for our guests to enjoy and explore as well as a presentation on collaboration.  Our guests were able to tour the building and classrooms at their leisure and we received rave reviews on their experience.  In fact, a few teachers requested a second visit to see the teachers in action and enjoyed their second visit very much. I'd like to extend my appreciation to Marlene, Jennifer and Jocelyn for all of their support in making the evening a success; to Jamie for pre-planning and for activity ideas and organization; and a huge thank you to the teachers.  Our teachers worked so hard to make sure that the evening would be a good experience for our visiting guests.  They went above and beyond in preparing their classrooms, activities and presentations.  I am incredibly proud of the work they did and thrilled at how much our visitors enjoyed their visit!

We also spent time celebrating the Week of the Young Child. Classrooms celebrated Music Monday, Tasty Tuesday, Work Together Wednesday, Tasty Thursday and Family Friday with fun and engaging activities each day. It was a hit with the children!

Also, our preschool classrooms spent time visiting the Carnegie Library for a puppet show and classrooms have been saying sad good-byes to children and families who are moving on to kindergarten in the fall.  We have also been busy transitioning children into new rooms and new families into the center, which is a very exciting time for us all.  

People ask us all the time if things quiet down here in the summer.  On the contrary, I think that we are busier during the summer, but in a good way. Enjoy this beautiful weather!
 
Warmly,
Mary Beth

Curriculum in the Classroom
Preschool One Sews

In Preschool One, we expose children to a variety of activities that help them strengthen and build their fine motor and hand-eye coordination.  One of the activities that we recently explored in the classroom was sewing.  Introducing children to a simple sewing activity provides opportunities to grow and strengthen many different areas of development.   

A simple way to provide children an easy sewing experience is through the use of burlap and yarn.  The children in preschool used plastic needles, which the teachers threaded for them before setting off to create their own sewing masterpieces. 

Below are just a few examples of how simple sewing can help build your child's coordination, thinking and mathematical skills while playing.

COORDINATION SKILLS
Before preschoolers can master the art of writing, they must first learn to control their small finger muscles. Sewing or stringing can also help young children develop important eye-hand coordination skills.

THINKING SKILLS
Planning, deciding to create something balanced or free form are all pursuits that help children learn to solve problems and develop thinking skills. Freely experimenting and observing results teaches children cause and effect. We all want our children to be good at making choices and solving problems. The preschool years are wonderful years to allow them the freedom to make mistakes and learn from them.

MATH SKILLS
Whether stringing beads or sewing on burlap, children are involved in beginning math pursuits. As children gradually develop their sewing and stringing skills, they will also be developing their knowledge of patterning, one-to-one correspondence, counting and symmetry.
 
After sewing on a smaller scale, we then turned our sensory table into a giant sewing table where both children and adults were invited to work together to create a collaborative piece of art.

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Good Eats

Here's a delicious  and easy dinner to try that was submitted by Mary Beth. It looks like an easy weeknight meal - enjoy!

Tomato, Basil and Mozzarella Chicken
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Olive oil, to taste
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste
Garlic powder, to taste
Oregano, to taste
One ball of fresh mozzarella cheese
One medium tomato
5 leaves of fresh basil

For the balsamic glaze:
1 cup dark balsamic vinegar
1/3 cup honey

*Try your leftover glaze on everything from vegetables to ice cream! Store in a cool, dry place away from direct light.

Preparation:
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit
  2. On a parchment lined baking sheet, season both sides of the chicken with olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic and oregano.
  3. Bake for 30 minutes or until baked through and juices run clear.
  4. While the chicken is in the oven, combine the balsamic vinegar and honey in a sauce pot and simmer, stirring occasionally. It should take about 20 minutes for the mixture to reduce. Once the glaze has reached your desired thickness, remove it from the heat and set aside.
  5. Remove the chicken from the oven and top with slices of mozzarella and tomato, then broil for 8-10 minutes or until the cheese is melty and the tomatoes are slightly charred. While the chicken is broiling, you can chiffonade (cut into thin strips) the basil.
  6. Drizzle the balsamic glaze over the chicken and top with basil. Enjoy!
Spotlight on Staff

Question: If you were to tell one person "Thank You" for helping you become the person you are today, who would it be and what did they do?
 
  • My mom taught me acceptance, empathy, perseverance and that love is of utmost importance. My mom passed away unexpectedly this month but her lessons will be forever with me. -Jamie Wincovitch, Education Coordinator
  • I would thank my grandfather. I am the oldest child of 4 and oldest grandchild of 22 but with him I never had to "be the big girl." He always let me curl up in his lap and just be his baby.  And the weight of the world was lifted off my shoulders! - Laurie Spengler, Substitute Teacher
  • My parents (actually 2 people!) for providing constant examples of love, a happy marriage, exceptional parenting, compassion for others, selflessness, positive attitude....the list goes on and on.  Thanks Mom & Dad! - Marlene Schenck, Business Manager
  • I would thank my Mom and Dad for giving me the gifts of faith, positive thinking, and commitment to family. - Cathy Baier, Preschool Three
  • I would thank Diane Sullivan, a teacher who retired from Toddler 1.  Diane became a good friend who could be so toddler specific when I questioned an issue.  She had many appropriate ideas to help me when any area of development needed clarification.  Diane could even provide activities to enhance my curriculum since she was teaching toddlers forever.   She also kept me informed on the political front.  Diane keeps track of what politicians vote for childcare issues even today.  Thank You Diane! - Maureen Sahr, Toddler Two
Maureen submitted this answer to this question in April and sadly, Diane unexpectedly passed away in May. She was a toddler teacher who worked tirelessly and devotedly at UCDC for over 20 years and touched the lives of many children and families. She will be greatly missed.

 

UCDC Art Gallery


Painting on Canvas
Family Picture
Animal Diorama


Let's Move Pittsburgh Gardening Grant

On May 11th, UCDC presented its completed poster highlighting the work of the Garden Committee (Mary Beth McCulloch, Jamie Wincovitch, Samantha Baird, Joanne Stiller, and Cheryl Petro) and the use of the grant money that we earned this past year. Phipps Conservatory hosted the event which began with networking, refreshments and the poster session. We then enjoyed a presentation from Dr. Deborah Moss of UPMC and the PA Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics and media experts Deborah Acklin, Cathy Cook and Gina Masciola. Navigating the tricky topic of screen time and the best ways to approach it in our connected world was addressed. The evening ended with more refreshments, networking and discussion surrounding the Champion Schools who were awarded grant money. It was a lovely evening!
UCDC Philosophy Explained

Why doesn't my child do worksheets at UCDC? Will she be ready for school?
 
At UCDC, we believe that children learn best through play. Math skills are discovered through block play, social skills are honed as they negotiate through conflict in the dramatic play area, and science is learned as they dabble in the water table. All of these hands-on experiences teach the needed skills that some worksheets offer, but in a more meaningful and authentic way.
 
In order to allow children to make sense of their own world and experience their own discoveries in an authentic way, we provide a wide variety of open-ended, divergent materials. These learning materials can be used by the children in any way and they may have more than one acceptable solution. This includes unit blocks, Legos (without directions), and natural materials such as clay, sand and water. We also offer children dramatic play experiences which enable them the ability to learn problem solving and conflict resolution skills. Worksheets also address some of these skills and experiences, but without the true impact of hands-on learning.
 
All of these materials and hands-on experiences will prepare your child for school and enable them to be successful in an academic environment by giving them the necessary skills that were taught in an authentic and meaningful way.

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"A Train" - Owen
Preschool Wisdoms

Are you ever curious what three-year-olds dream about? Here are some recollections from some of the little ones in Preschool Three.
  • About when I went to a playground - Leo
  • The Empire Strikes Back - Aaron
  • About being Darth Vader - Quinn
  • About Thomas trains - Simon
  • Snow coming down - Divya
  • A robot - Ella
  • Mamie's cake - Bode
  • A train - Owen
  • Mickey Mouse - Jayden
  • A green car - Oskar
  • A kitty cat and a walrus - Jackson
  • About my Dad - Ander
  • A gorilla. He was climbing to the top of a building. - Lexy
  • Basketball - Cormac
  • Dreams about playing - Troy

Our Philosophy

Markers on Hands 7.11
UCDC utilizes a child centered, extended family approach that is fostered by supporting the developmental needs of all children. We foster children's self esteem, creative abilities, sense of belonging and success by implementing a developmentally appropriate curriculum based on NAEYC and Keystone STARS standards, through a play-based approach to learning. We support families and partner with them to provide an environment that welcomes their collaboration and supports both cultural and family preferences.


University Child Development Center | University of Pittsburgh
412.383.2100 | www.ucdc.pitt.edu