Throughout my day at UCDC, I am in a unique position and am able to experience many different things. As I was sitting here thinking about writing this article, I was side-tracked by observing the infants returning from a walk and watching the preschoolers in the gym. One of the babies from Infant Four stopped to wave "hello" and tell me that she went on a "walk." She followed with a very confident "bye-bye." The preschoolers were quite busy in the gym and when the teachers started singing a transitional clean up song, they moved right into cleaning up and getting ready to go into the classroom for lunch. They did a great job following directions and helping each other. On this particular day, I also witnessed siblings helping each other. The empathy between twins is quite astounding sometimes. I also watched families dropping children off; some of these children were doing quite well while others were struggling with saying goodbye to their parents after the weekend. By 9:30 all was well. Teachers know the children in the classrooms very well so even if they are sad at drop-off, the teachers help to get them engaged and feel safe here at the Center. It's hard to see children experience sadness, but it's wonderful to see them become happy with the comfort of their teachers.
I also spent some time watching a preschooler painting at an easel mixing colors, toddlers riding bikes, children getting ready to bake and lots of reading and singing. I observed teachers making meaningful connections, using positive language and engaging in supportive interactions. Teachers are busy, children are busy and wonderful things are happening all day.
Along with all that goes on with the children in the building, I also did other work in my office. Paperwork, emails, filing, filling out forms, researching things on my to-do list, approving time cards, returning phone calls and scheduling tours, to name a few. All necessary things that need to happen. I much prefer the part of my job that involves the children, families and the staff. That is what puts a smile on my face and makes my heart feel good. Every day is a new experience, and I believe that experiences are what helps to shape our beliefs, values, abilities and dreams. Having many different experiences is so important.
It's amazing to me that after being at UCDC for almost 25 years, each day is still a revelation and a wonderful experience. I value each moment with the children and I can still be pleasantly surprised and encouraged by what each day can bring. In my case, I guess the experience of getting side-tracked has wonderful consequences.
Curriculum in the Classroom:
The desire to use and explore sensory items comes natural to some and to others it brings about a different type of emotion and reaction. Each time we would engage the children in an art project that involved paint, the possibility of having to touch paint or anything in the sensory table that may get "messy," we would have a child that wanted to participate, but wouldn't join the activity. The feeling of paint or anything of that sort would bring about a negative reaction after it was touched and then that child would leave the activity. Therefore, we decided to alter the activity to include everyone.This child's desire to participate but hesitance to do so inspired us to alter the art options for everyone.
The activity we presented the children with is called saran wrap art. It is simply paper with piles of different colored paints, covered with a top layer of saran wrap. The goal of this activity was for it to be a "safe" and "comfortable" learning experience for that child, but also to be something new and exciting for the other children.
At first, the child was a little hesitant because of course they saw the paint. But soon this particular child was fully engaged and loving the experience. We've since done a few more "safe" activities/experiences where the child did not have to get messy but could participate in the art experiences. Now, even with messy projects, this child is the first to the table and one of the last to leave. The anxiety once felt has now diminished because we followed the lead and need of the child in a responsive and nurturing way. The process of helping the
child overcome their fears was much more important than the product of what they could create.
Curriculum in the Classroom:
Recently, the children in Preschool Two became interested in reading a new story from the library: Three Little Pigs-An Architectural Tale. To build on this interest, the children were invited to use various building materials to construct a house for their own pigs. Building materials included bricks, rods, and cubes. Before building, each child made a predication about which material would make for the sturdiest and weakest structure. While all children agreed that the bricks would be the strongest building material, no one was quite sure about the rods or cubes. After creating a house for their pigs, children used the big bad wolf (a hairdryer) to attempt to blow their house down! We learned that stability not only depends on what material you use, but also the direction in which we laid the building pieces, the shape of our structure, and the direction we held the dryer!
To build on this interest even further, the children were then invited to create a brand new building material. They utilized many senses as they measured and mixed topsoil, water, and sand to create mud. The children then carefully added the mud mixture to ice cube trays, where they were put out to dry in the sun. After two days, the mud bricks were ready to build with! The builders first created individually, and then collaboratively. Just like architects, the children were challenged to draw a blueprint of what their structure would look like before they began building. They decided together to build a castle with two bedrooms and a garden. Once they had drawn their designs, the building began!
Caprese Salad "Shots"
Submitted by Cathy Baier, Preschool Three
What a great use of all of that fresh basil and tomatoes from your gardens! Enjoy this quick and fresh recipe this summer with your family!
2 large tomatoes, chopped
4 ounces (1 cup) mozzarella cheese, cut into cubes
1/4 cup fresh basil, shredded
1 T olive oil
1 T balsamic vinegar
Combine all ingredients in a large bowl, then layer into shot glasses or small cups.
Serve with toothpicks
8 servings; 1 shot each
Spotlight on Staff
We're in the height of vacation season and we wanted to find out where our teachers would go if they could go anywhere at all. Read on to find out where they would love to relax and rejuvenate.
- My dream vacation would be a trip to Italy with my husband, Chuck. He has cousins that still live in Italy and I would love to reconnect with them and enjoy the beaches and fabulous food of Southern Italy. - Mary Fertelmes, Preschool Two
- My dream vacation would entail some fantasy. I would like to have my whole extended family at big beautiful houses at the beach. We could eat together, drink together and share memories. No one would disagree with anyone and everyone would enjoy the whole time together. - Maureen Sahr, Toddler Two
- I would say that I would love to visit Czechoslovakia, where my grandparents were born. And I'd love to visit Alaska. And I would love to vacation in Ireland and Scotland. - Mary Beth McCulloch, Director
- My dream vacation would be to go to Italy, especially Rome and then the Amalfi Coast, Florence, Assisi, Tuscany... - Cathy Baier, Preschool Three
- Traveling across the United States in a RV with my husband, First stop - Nashville! - Cheryl Petro, Preschool One
- My dream vacation would be to take a European Heritage Cruise & Land Tour with my family. I would like to visit the countries that make up our heritage on both mine & my husband's side. The countries would include: Ireland, Italy, Poland, Scotland & Ukraine. I've visited two of the five countries but it was before we had children. - Michelle Mattys, Preschool Four
- I would spend a few months in France, Paris specifically. Rent an apartment, roam around each day and brush up on my French! - Shelley Martin, Infant Three
- IF money were no object, I would say I'd love to go to Italy. Or heck, even somewhere on the west coast. - Emily Marsh, Preschool Two
Welcome to UCDC!
We'd like to welcome two new infant teachers to our program. Tyris Chapman joined Infant Three's teaching team and Jenny Lee joined Infant Four. Please read to learn more about our new teachers here at UCDC and make sure you take a minute to introduce yourselves!
Hi, my name is Tyris Chapman and I am pleased to join the staff in Infant Room 3 as the Associate Teacher. I am originally from Maryland, but have called Pittsburgh home for almost 20 years. I bring with me many years in the education field ranging from infants through adults. Outside of work I enjoy reading, travel, volunteering and the arts.
I am so glad to be joining the UCDC family as an Associate Teacher in Infant Four. I grew up traveling all over as a "military brat," but came to Pittsburgh as a teenager and adopted this friendly city as my hometown. I live in the South Hills with my husband, three kids and our grumpy cat. My other loves include coffee, books, science, gardening, swing dancing and Doctor Who. I've been in the early childhood field in one form or another for over 20 years and I could not imagine loving a job more than I love this one!
- UCDC will be closed on Friday, August 11th for a Professional Development Day with our staff. Enjoy your long weekend!
- Weekend Events - If you are leaving UCDC but would like to stay on our mailing list for our Weekend Events weekly email, please let the front office know so they are able to add you to this list.
It is clear that UCDC supports breastfeeding mothers by offering private spaces in the building, supporting on-demand feeding schedules for infants, and welcoming parents to nurse their children anywhere in our building.
Fortunately, the larger University also supports breastfeeding by providing Lactation Rooms on campus. Click here for a list of spaces around campus.
The Departmental of Environmental Health and Safety at the University of Pittsburgh conducted lead testing of our drinking water and the results were excellent.
As quoted, "Lead levels in all of the UCDC water samples were less than detectable (<1ppb) well below the EPA's limit of 15 parts per billion (ppb)."
UCDC Philosophy Explained:
Transitions at UCDC
At this time of year, there are typically a lot of transitions happening in the building, especially after our oldest group leaves to start Kindergarten. It makes for a very busy time here at UCDC. The process is long, but the slow pace speaks to the needs of each individual child.
To begin, children are considered for the next age grouping when a number of factors are met. First, they must be chronologically old enough, there has to be an opening in the next age group classroom, there are no children ahead of them in line for the space and most importantly, they are developmentally ready. When all of these factors are met, this child is ready!
Once a child is identified as ready to transition to the next classroom, the family is notified and asked to fill out paperwork which will give the new teachers helpful information on the child, their personality and their family. The parents/guardians are also asked to schedule a meeting with the new teacher which will help the teacher to get to know the family and child. This will also help the family to understand the new classroom and how the age grouping is different.
Once all this is in motion, the new teachers will visit the child in his or her current classroom allowing the child to become familiar with the new teachers in a secure and familiar environment. These visits will also help the new teachers to observe the child in their most familiar environment. After these visits, the child will then visit the new classroom frequently with one of their current teachers so he or she can become acclimated to the new environment. This transition process can take as little as a week for some children, but has gone much longer for other children. Our goal is to make the transition as smooth as possible while considering each individual child. When it happens slow and at their own pace, it makes the transition easier on everyone involved (new teachers, old teacher, parents and child)!
The children in Preschool Four have been recently exposed to the idea of being on television after one of their classmates, Makena, was filmed for an episode
of Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood. So we asked the children...
If you could be friends with someone on TV, who would it be?
Emerson from the baseball show - Leo
Sour Sweet (My Little Pony)- Makena
Mr.Rogers - Liam
Ash Ketchum (Pokémon) - Molly
Olaf (Frozen)- Vivian
Batman - Jesse
Everybody! - Victor
Mickey Mouse - Peter
Makena because she is going to be on TV - Emmy
The Biskit Twins (Littlest Pet Shop)- Emerson
MoMo (Avatar) - Alice
Spiderman - Sully
Darth Vador (Star Wars)- Aaron
Makena - Riley
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.