November 2017
Director's Corner
Music makes me happy! I love to hum and sing even though I don't have a very good voice. I love to listen to all types of music. I always have the radio on in my car and I often listen to music at home. What I listen to often depends on my mood. Upbeat to clean the house and quiet to relax. Ballads to sing along with in the car and slow and quiet when I'm feeling reflective or a bit sad. I'm sure that's what a lot of people do. It helps to set the tone, depending on what's going on. I also like to find songs that have some kind of message or meaning to them. My daughter is a big fan of country music and she often calls me to share a new song that has some type of message in it that she can relate to. One of my favorite songs includes the line, "always be humble and kind, say please and thank you."  I try to remember those words every day - it's a good lesson and a good way to navigate through the challenging and positive parts of life. There are many inspirational songs and lyrics that can be both comforting and meaningful.

Music is quite universal and often brings people and children together. Through common themes and shared interests, children can find a common ground in music, much the same way that they find commonalities through play. Whether it's just listening to music, singing along, learning about concepts or skills, or dancing and being silly; music is a special and fun way to move, relax and come together in a creative and non-threatening way. There aren't many things that are better than seeing a small child belting out a tune that just feels good to sing out loud. Music can be fun, loud and silly, and should encourage both children and adults to be the same. Any time I visit a classroom, I offer to sing. Just a quick song that sometimes leads into "more please" or "again."  I love it and hope that the kids do too. 

A few weeks ago I was enjoying some time on the playground. I like to go out and watch the children play, assess how things are going and have a little fun. On this particular day, I was chatting with some of the preschoolers. The sun was in my eyes so I suggested that we go and sit on one of swings. Off we went, all five of us swinging and chatting. Before long, I mentioned to the kids that "singing" rhymes with "swinging" and then I asked if anyone wanted to sing a song. With great enthusiasm I heard an upbeat version of the ABC song. We all sang that a second time in very loud voices. Baa Baa Black Sheep was next.   After that, I heard a very concise and precise version of Let it Go from the movie, Frozen.  I was quite impressed.  When the singer suggested another rendition of Let it Go, I offered to sing one of my favorite songs, On Top of Pizza (a alternative version of the familiar On Top of Spaghetti).  The kids thought that it was quite silly and before you know it they had joined me in singing it three times. I have to tell you, that this was one of the best days ever. Singing and swinging with three-year-olds is something that everyone should do. Before long it was time for the kids to head in. They were sad; I was sad. But I did have a smile on my face for rest of the afternoon. 
Mary Beth

Curriculum in the Classroom
Infant Four - #PittsburghRocks

One of the hallmarks of our curriculum at UCDC is its emergent nature. Young children are  naturally curious, and it is our joy to nurture and expand on that curiosity. We recently had this  opportunity with the children in Infant Four when one of our toddlers found a painted rock during our  neighborhood walk. We encouraged her to pick it up to investigate it and to everyone ' s delight,  we discovered it was painted like a penguin, and was part of the #PittsburghRocks movement.  Our happy discoverer proudly carried it back to our classroom where each child had the  opportunity to explore the treasure.
We extended the activity by providing the children with laminated maps of our neighborhood.  We traced the route of our walk with markers and talked about where we had found the penguin
rock. We talked about how happy it had made us to find the pretty rock, and how fun it would be  to hide it as a surprise for someone else. During our next walk, each child had the opportunity to
hold the maps and be our " navigator" as we decided where to rehide the rock. When we had  found the perfect place, one of our toddlers carefully placed the treasure and everyone waved  good-bye.
Our fascination with rocks continues! We have each painted our own rock, which will go home  with our families so we can share the excitement of leaving beautiful surprises around our own
neighborhoods. We also enjoyed exploring a basket of unpainted, naturally beautiful rocks as  we played and we continue to examine the rocks we find during our daily walks and playground  time.

UCDC's Kindness Rock Garden

Many you may have heard of the Kindness Rocks Movement and some of you also may have been lucky enough to find one of the rocks hidden throughout the city and beyond (just like the lucky little ones in Infant Four!). These rocks are painted with a picture, design, or inspirational quote and then tagged on the back with directions for the finder to post their find and then re-hide. The goal is to spread kindness. It's that simple!

This past month at UCDC, we all painted kindness rocks together. It was a very relaxing experience and the rocks turned out incredible! These rocks will start our UCDC Kindness Rock Garden that will be near the entrance to the building. We are hoping that you help our garden grow by painting rocks at home with your children. Part of the garden will have unpainted rocks for you to take (or you can find your own in nature) and use with your family. We also invite you to take any of the painted rocks that speak to you or your child and re-hide them throughout the city. The classrooms here at UCDC have also joined the movement as well!

Learn how-to paint the rocks  here and join the movement!
Spotlight on Staff

What was your earliest memory of school?
  • One of my first memories is from preschool. I vividly remember getting into an argument with another little girl because she kept insisting that "yinz" was a real word. My grandma always said it, and my mom had explained to me that it was slang, but not a real word. So I kept insisting back, "It's not a real word, it's just slang." - Emily Marsh, Preschool Two
  • Walking up a gigantic set of cement steps and feeling very little and very afraid. - Mary Beth McCulloch, Director 
  • I started school in first grade and was a bit anxious. My teacher, Sr. Marie Bernard reached out to me and put me at ease right away. She made sure to develop a relationship with each of her students. She is one of the favorite teachers I ever had.  - Cathy Baier, Preschool Three
  • My Kindergarten teacher had us coloring teepees and told us to color them brown.  Well, I colored mine purple, probably because I was FIVE and couldn't remember which one was brown.  The teacher told me I was wrong and held it up for the class to see.  I was a VERY shy child and I can remember being just so embarrassed and wanting to cry but holding in my tears.  I always loved school but Kindergarten was a hard gig back then and I use that memory as a keystone, knowing that my ultimate goal is to make children feel secure, special and loved.  And they can color their world any way they see fit! - Shelley Martin, Infant Three
UCDC Art Gallery

Welcome to UCDC!

We're excited to welcome three new teachers to our UCDC family this month - Sara Abdul Halim, Debbie Higgs and Connie Kimmel. Sara is our new morning subsitute teacher and Debbie is our new afternoon substitute, so they will be working with all of the children in the Center. Connie is the new Head Teacher in Toddler Three. We are happy to welcome all of them! Please read on to learn more about our new teachers.

Hello, my name is Sara and I'm so excited for this opportunity to join the UCDC community. I am a substitute teacher lucky enough to interact with awesome kids of all ages! My husband and I moved to Pittsburgh from Oklahoma City in July and have already fallen in love with this charming place. When I'm not at work, my favorite things to do are cooking, painting, and exploring places I've never been. Looking forward to getting to know everyone!


Hello! My name is Debbie Higgs and I am really excited to be joining UCDC as a substitute. I have my Associate's degree in Early Childhood Education and I am hoping to go back for my Bachelor's soon. I grew up in Pittsburgh with five siblings and spent 95% of my childhood playing outside with grandparents. Aside from being in the early education field, I enjoy spending time with my boyfriend of ten years - watching movies, reading and spending time outdoors. 


Hello UCDC family! My name is Connie Kimmel and I will be the new Head Teacher in the Toddler 3 classroom at UCDC! I graduated from California University of Pennsylvania with a Bachelors Degree in Early Childhood Education. I have five years of experience working with toddlers at The Goddard School and Tender Care Learning Centers. A few of my interests include spending time with my husband and family, playing with our cat, and finding new recipes to cook or bake! I look forward to getting to know all of you and working with your children!



"I want to ride my two-wheeler without training wheels." - Riley
Preschool Wisdoms

Preschool Four responds to the question:

"What is something you'd like to learn how to do?"

  • "Conduct the Pitt band." - Aaron
  • "Hold onto a bar and hang upside down." - Ander
  • "Drive a Jeep on trails like my Dad." - Bode
  • "I want to learn to ride bikes." - Jackson
  • "Jump!" - Jayden
  • "To be Superwoman!" - Jennifer
  • "The rock climbing wall at the park." - Leo
  • "To do homework." - Liam
  • "I would like to ride a baby horse." - Mila
  • "I want to ride my two-wheeler without training wheels." - Riley
  • "I want to learn to ride a two-wheeler." - Shawn
  • "I want to use the big slide at the zoo." - Sylvia
  • "The big bar at gymnastics." - Tegan
  • "Making things with pipes." - Uzay
  • "Ride a two-wheeler bike." - Wyatt

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
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