January 2017
Director's Corner
Winter in Pittsburgh. Cold, gray and not that much fun. January in Pittsburgh is a stay-at-home kind of month.  Hopefully the hectic pace of November and December is over and as Dame Edith Sitwell said "winter is the time for comfort, for good food and warmth, for the touch of a friendly hand and for a talk beside the fire; It is the time for home."

As difficult as it might be to manage the cold, dark gray days, it can also be a time to gather with family and create our own light and warmth. Spending relaxing time together, without having specific plans or objectives can sometimes create the most magical moments. In the fast paced world that we live in, it's more important than ever to create a sanctuary that is calm, peaceful, and speaks to the people that live in it. Environment plays a big role in how people behave and being together in a space that is warm, uncluttered and inviting can do wonders for the soul.  

At UCDC we think a lot about how the classroom can create a sense of belonging for both children and families.  Extending a home-like environment to us is very important because we know it eases a child's transition into the classroom. Creating a space that is manageable, accessible and organized allows children to feel accomplished and in control of their surroundings. It creates opportunities for them to explore and practice self-help skills along with plenty of opportunity to play with materials that have value, purpose and relevance to their development. Providing a manageable space becomes even more important during the cold winter months when we are less likely to be able to go outside. Creating cozy spaces and providing opportunities for both active and quiet play helps to support the needs of the group, which is something that classroom teachers are always thinking about. 

Whether you are thinking about your living space, a child's bedroom or your own office, take a few minutes to think about how that space affects the people that spend time in it and whether or not you can make any changes to make that time more enjoyable.
 
Warm regards,
Mary Beth

Curriculum in the Classroom
Preschool Three

Preschool 3 often reuses cardboard boxes for a variety of purposes, ranging from art to imaginary play. Recently, we unfolded three large boxes and introduced them into block area. The children used the pieces for a few days, building "superhero houses" and other sorts of buildings. One day, the kids began to use glue sticks to connect the large pieces of cardboard together. The glue was not holding, so with a little teacher help, they taped the sides together and created a long row of pieces that they could manipulate into a variety of structures.  

The following day, a teacher introduced dot markers and the children began "painting" their house. Almost every child was working side by side in the block area, decorating their structure together. Quickly, the children enthusiastically decided that the house was actually an ice cream shop. They immediately began sharing ideas and agreed that they wanted to create signs for their shop. One child asked a teacher to dictate the spelling of the signs while she wrote them on paper. They then taped the signs on their shop.  One read "ice cream" while the others read "open" and "closed." The teachers then introduced a basket of cotton balls and small cups to the children. Without instructing them how to use the materials, the children immediately began serving up ice cream! They placed the cotton balls into the cups and began taking orders! 

We are still in the process of creating with the cardboard and are so excited to see what the ice cream shop turns into next! 
Good Eats: Gingerbread Cookies
By Preschool Two

The children in Preschool Two read several books about gingerbread cookies and then decided it would be fun to make some in the classroom. 

Here is the recipe that they used for this project. The cookies were delicious and the children loved this activity! Consider making them with your family!

Ingredients:
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1 3/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
1 large egg
1/2 cup molasses
2 teaspoons vanilla
 
Directions:
In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon, and cloves until well blended.
In a large bowl beat butter, brown sugar, and egg on medium speed until well blended.
Add molasses and vanilla, and continue to mix until well blended.
Gradually stir in dry ingredients until blended and smooth.
Divide dough in half and wrap each half in plastic and let stand at room temperature for at least 2 hours or up to 8 hours.  Dough can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 4 days, but in this case it should be refrigerated. Return to room temp before using.

Preheat oven to 375 deg. Prepare baking sheets by lining with parchment paper.
Place 1 portion of the dough on a lightly floured surface.
Sprinkle flour over dough and rolling pin.
Roll dough to a scant 1/4-inch thick.
Use additional flour to avoid sticking.
Cut out cookies with desired cutter-- the ginger bread man is our favorite of course.
Space cookies 1 1/2-inches apart.
Bake 1 sheet at a time for 7-10 minutes (the lower time will give you softer cookies-- very good!).
Remove cookie sheet from oven and allow the cookies to stand until the cookies are firm enough to move to a wire rack.
After cookies are completely cool you may decorate them any way you like.
Spotlight on Staff

Happy New Year!

Finding ways to change or better yourself is a tradition for some at this time of year as people make New Year's Resolutions. Here are some of our staff's resolutions for 2017.
  • Eat less sugar! - Mary Beth McCulloch, Director
  • Be healthier. - Sabrina Colborn, Toddler Three
  • To call my mom much more often! - Shelley Martin, Infant Three
  • I don't do resolutions, but if I ever did, I wouldn't tell anyone about it. - Emily Marsh, Preschool Two
  • To eat more vegetables! - Jamie Wincovitch, Education Coordinator
  • My new year's resolution is to purge, purge, purge all the junk and unused items in my house! - Ammie Ribarchak, Preschool One
  • To not let things stress me out. To be more Zen. - Tiffany Robinson, Infant Two
Lost and Found

Please claim any of these lost items that may belong to you or your child. They are located at the front desk of UCDC.



FYI
  • Thank you so much for picking up your children early on Thursday, December 22nd! It was quite a gift to allow our teachers to leave early and start their holiday break.
  • As winter weather is upon us, we just wanted to remind folks to allow extra travel time at the end of the day if the weather is snowy or expected to get bad. Also, if the weather is bad, UCDC does not close independently of the University and we don't have delayed openings as seen with some schools. 
  • UCDC will be closed on Monday, January 16th in observance of Dr. Martin Luther King's birthday. Enjoy the long weekend with your family!
  • Speech and hearing screenings will be held on January 18, 25 and February 3 (preschoolers only)
  • We will host students again this year from Duksung Women's University. This two week practicum will consist of classroom time, visits to local attractions, family time with their host family (thank you so much to Michael Wood-Vasey, Elaine Musgrave and their daughter Estella Wood-Vasey for hosting this year) and professional reflections. The two weeks are always very busy for the students and their cooperating teachers, but unbelievably rewarding at the same time. The students will arrive the weekend of January 20th and will start their experience here at UCDC on January 23rd.
UCDC Art Gallery




Committee Work

The Gardening Committee is working on a presentation for Phipp's Conservatory in order to highlight the use of our gardening grant awarded this past year. UCDC will be highlighted at the 5-2-1-0 Speaker Series in April.
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UCDC Philosophy Explained
Transitioning to Kindergarten

The teachers at UCDC strive to prepare our graduates for life outside of UCDC. Due to the fact that our children attend many different schools upon completion of UCDC, it's important for us to know where children will be headed. This information allows us to make better and different decisions for your children. 

We are in the process of collecting information from alumni and teachers in respect to this topic. We would also love to hear any feedback that you may have about your child's transition if you happen to have an older child that has already left UCDC. We will also be collecting information from a variety of other sources as well in this project.

Please send any comments and information about your child's transition to Jamie Wincovitch at jmw170@pitt.edu. We will use this preliminary information to create future exit interviews for children leaving UCDC. 

Thanks so much in advance!
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Preschool Wisdoms

Know a good book? The children in Preschool Three do! Learn more about their favorites below:
  • Curious George - Ander
  • Take Me Out to the Ballgame - Bode, Quinn and Max
  • Abiyoyo - Leo
  • Froggy Goes to the Library - Ella
  • Minnie Mouse - Kirala
  • Big Red Lollipop - Lexy
  • Cat in the Hat - Shay
  • Jack and the Beanstalk - Jayden
  • The shark one ("I Am a Shark") - Austin
  • Sleeping Beauty - Aaron
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