In This Issue
Linking to a Healthy Lifestyle for Your Family
UCDC Philosophy Explained
UCDC Reads
Behind the Scenes with Chris Dragun, Toddler 2
Put Your Finger in the Air
Quick Links

University Child Development Center

635 Clyde Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15260 
Newsletter Committee

Mary Beth McCulloch - Executive Editor

Jamie Wincovitch - Editor and Production Manager

Corrie Anderson - Editorial Staff and Photographer

Wendy Colbert - Editorial Staff

Jennifer Sneddon - Editorial Staff 

Safety First!
Please make sure you are helping your young children remember our hallway and parking lot safety rules. It is so important that children are supervised while in the hallway and in the parking lot. Children need to be close to their adult while in these spaces in order to make sure everyone is safe. Our parking lot gets VERY busy and we want to make sure accidents are avoided.
Thanks for your attention in this matter!
Parent Survey
You will be receiving a short parent survey in your child's mailbox in the next few days. Please take the time to fill this out and return it to the box in the lobby. Surveys are anonymous, but please include your child's age level. The feedback from these surveys will help us be able to determine how to best meet all of our families needs.
Thanks so much!
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Dear Families, 


As it should be, most of what is written in the newsletter is about children.  This month I wanted to share something that a very wise and compassionate teacher shared with me that applies more to the grownups who take care of the children here and at home. In the bestselling book The Four Agreements, don Miguel Ruiz speaks about four principles that I find refreshing. They are not so much about self- help as they are about good common sense and how to be a truly genuine person.  Chances are you'll be able to apply these principles in your own life or share them with others, creating a more positive environment for children and adults.  


The Four Agreements are:  


1. Be Impeccable with your Word: Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the Word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others. Use the power of your Word in the direction of truth and love.


2. Don't Take Anything Personally
Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won't be the victim of needless suffering.


3. Don't Make Assumptions
Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness and drama. With just this one agreement, you can completely transform your life.


4. Always Do Your Best
Your best is going to change from moment to moment; it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick. Under any circumstance, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgment, self-abuse, and regret.


Children are quite impressionable and as their role models, we have a responsibility to help them be the best that they can be, by always doing our best.  By showing children, rather than telling them, we can help them grow into responsible, caring individuals who will make a difference in the world as they get older.



Mary Beth


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Linking to a Healthy Lifestyle for Your Family
By Christa Penrod, Toddler 3

My Plate

At 12:00 PM everyday an odd silence falls through the classrooms at UCDC.  It is lunch time, one of the most anticipated parts of the school day. In the infant classrooms, the babies are working hard to use their small fingers to pick up their food, in the toddler classroom the children discuss the reasons or options for wearing a bib, and in preschool the children are working with the teachers to prepare the food and carry it to the table.  But what is it that makes meal times so successful at UCDC? Perhaps it is the predictability of the lunch time routine, carefully executed by the classroom teachers? Or the engaging and interesting conversations that occur as the children and the classroom teachers sit down together to enjoy the meal?  Or finally could it be the nutritious and delicious meals that are offered to the children?  It is our thought at UCDC, that all of these components make lunch time a popular part of the school day.  As a result, the children are being exposed to healthy foods and positive eating behaviors that will hopefully promote a lifetime of wellness.


In the spring of 2011, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Health and Human Services released new information and technological applications to promote healthy eating habits of children and adults in the United States. Despite a  variety of healthy eating promotions and efforts marketed to children and families, a 2011 sample of 5-17 year olds showed that at least 60% of overweight children had a least one risk factor for cardiovascular disease (, 2011).  In addition to cardiovascular disease, children who are overweight or obese are at risk for the following health problems; heart disease, type 2 diabetes, asthma, sleep apnea, and social discrimination. In an effort to educate parents and caregivers regarding the importance of healthful eating, the USDA and the Department of Health and Human Services created .  This website and template has replaced the somewhat confusing Food Pyramid; however, to date the website still promotes and offers the food pyramid as another method of education for nutritional tracking  MyPlate is a colorful and interactive approach that allows individuals to meal plan using a template to visualize just how a healthy plate would look and then can be recreated in your home. Once you visit the site, you will not be overwhelmed by the changes, because USDA and the department of Health and Human Services still strongly focus on food groups and the existing Dietary Guidelines for 2010 (  To build a healthy plate for yourself and your child, MyPlate suggests making half of your plate fruit and vegetables, switch to skim or 1% milk, make half of your grains whole grains, and vary your protein choices. In addition, the website allows you to identify your personal daily calorie limit and check posted calorie amounts. It also provides parents and caregivers with current research regarding nutrition and healthy development of children.


Balanced and healthy eating is only half of the answer in creating or supporting a healthy lifestyle.  In conjunction with  families should visit, a health initiative of First Lady, Michelle Obama.  This website hosts great information regarding healthy behaviors for children and families with a focus on physical activity. After you surf the website and collect great recipes, fun activities, and information from blogs around the country, click on the take action tab, .  This tab provides parents, caregivers, children, chefs, community, and the medical community with the information and motivation they need to promote physical activity in their communities.


The first step for Let's Move for Families is for the families to evaluate their snacking behavior and provides tips for healthier munching habits. The second step encourages families to use a downloadable document to record their physical activity as a family  The third step has a focus on healthy meal planning as a family and for the family. The website offers a great grocery list that you are able to download and print to help organize shopping trips. Step four places an emphasis on monitoring and reducing screen time for all family members and a log for recording screen time can be found here.  And finally step number five offers parents and caregivers information regarding nutrition in schools. This step provides parents with the knowledge of current health promotions and practices for their child's school compared to other schools.


Please remember that all of these potential changes in lifestyle and wellness do not need to take place all in one day. Should your family choose to implement any of the changes provided by the website, begin by setting small goals for the family in order to ensure success and avoid frustration.  Be sure to try to include all family members in a discussion regarding modifying or changing the health habits of the family. And don't forget to have fun and enjoy learning together as a family as you get healthy together.




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UCDC Philosophy Explained...

Answers to Common Parent Questions


By Jamie Wincovitch, Education Coordinator


Toddler Eating

My child is a picky eater. Why can't I just bring her lunch?


At the University Child Development Center, we pride ourselves in our food program for many reasons. For one, we attempt to model very healthy eating choices for young children by only offering foods that are low in sugar, made with natural ingredients, and overall healthy. In our country, we are fighting an obesity epidemic that continues to become more severe as it engulfs a large proportion of America's children. We believe that when healthy eating is introduced at a young age, the children are more accepting of this type of food and are less likely to be subject to obesity, which introduces a wide variety of health problems for children and adults.


We also believe that eating WITH children shows them that we are all willing to try new foods. Therefore, the adults in the classroom sit with the children during mealtimes, model healthy eating, and engage in relaxed conversations, while modeling appropriate table manners. This atmosphere creates a peer modeling effect, where the child sees his peers and teachers eating similar foods and he is then more inclined to try these foods. Teachers NEVER withhold food to encourage the tasting of a non-preferred food. They simply model the behavior and trust a child's natural inclination to eat. Before the age of six, children are naturally able to listen to their body and its need for food. Sometime after that, food intake is dictated by time of day, food choice, and "clean your plate" syndrome. Therefore, we believe that allowing a child to make whatever food choices they want is a healthy choice as long as all of the foods on the table are healthy.


At UCDC, we also understand the different needs of different children and will work with a family to substitute foods that look/taste similar to what everyone else is offered due to an allergy or religious reason. For example, our vegan choice looks VERY similar to the traditional lunch choice at UCDC by design. This allows the children to see that we are all eating foods that look alike and therefore one child doesn't have to feel different based on their food options.


We understand that some children have more food preferences than others and acknowledge the natural inclination of a preschooler to start voicing these preferences. But, we believe that continuing to offer the same healthy foods to the children will benefit them in the long run as they begin to formulate healthy eating habits.


On a side note...we NEVER label a child a "picky eater." Labeling a child will inevitably ensure the child has the given traits. Children crave attention and they may continue to be "picky" in order to maintain all of the attention that this label holds.  


Bon appétit! 


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UCDC Reads by Toddler 3

Where's Spot?

By Eric Hill

Spot the Dog

Spot the Dog has been a beloved part of children's stories for twenty years, but has just recently become a favorite in the Toddler 3 classroom.  In the Spot the Dog series of stories, Spot has adventures with picnics, parties, the park, and farms. In the story Where's Spot? Toddler 3 follows Spot's friend Sally on an adventure through the house to find Spot because it is time to eat his dinner.  Actually, the relationship between Spot and Sally is unknown to the reader, but the friends in Toddler 3 believe that it must be Spot's mommy.  This is a fun story because we are introduced to so many other animals such as an alligator, a snake, a monkey, and three penguins as we search for Spot.  These animals are hidden all throughout the house and under flaps within the story pages. Every time we read the story, the children take turns flipping up the flaps of the book with excitement to see what animal they will find.  Toddler 3 hopes you can share this story with your family and wishes you luck finding Spot!



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Behind the Scenes with Chris Dragun, Toddler 2

Chris Dragun

We are so excited to welcome Chris to our full time staff! As a substitute teacher, Chris built a reputation for being extremely caring and hardworking. She was an absolute joy to have in the classroom. She can now be found teaching in Toddler 2 as their full time Assistant Teacher.


Where did you grow up?

I grew up in the "country" in Mars, Pennsylvania.


How long have you worked at UCDC?

I have been working at UCDC for one year this past July.


What was your funniest UCDC moment?

It's not a funny moment, but I always laugh when I work with Karol from Infant 3. She has a great sense of humor!


What is your hobby/special interest?

I enjoy scrapbooking and landscaping.


What is one thing people may not know about you?

I have 6 sisters and 6 brothers!


What is your favorite lunch at UCDC?



What do you do for fun?

I hang out with my 3 kids. We enjoy game night, movie night, and going out to dinner.


If you could have one wish, what would it be?

For everyone in the world to be good and honest.


Where do you see yourself in 5-10 years?

I see myself having fun with grandchildren.


What is the best part about working at UCDC?

The co-workers, students and parents are some of the nicest people I have ever met.



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Song Lyrics

Put Your Finger in the Air by Woody Guthrie

Preschool 2


one finger

Preschool 2 loves to sing this song throughout their busy days. They especially enjoy adding their own words and attempting to rhyme with the new body part. I hope your family enjoys the lyrics as much as the preschoolers do!


Put your finger in the air, in the air;
Put your finger in the air, in the air;
Put your finger in the air
And leave it about a year;
Put your finger in the air, in the air.


Put your finger on your head, on your head;
Put your finger on your head, on your head;
Put your finger on your head
Tell me if it's green or red?
Put your finger on your head on your head.


Put your finger on your nose, on your nose;
Put your finger on your nose, on your nose;
Put your finger on your nose
And feel the cold wind blow;
Put your finger on your nose, on your nose.


Put your finger on your shoe, on your shoe;
Put your finger on your shoe, on your shoe;
Put your finger on your shoe
And leave it a day or two;
Put your finger on your shoe, on your shoe.


Put your finger on your chin, on your chin;
Put your finger on your chin, on your chin;
Put your finger on your chin -
That's where the food slips in;
Put your finger on your chin, on your chin.


Put your finger on your cheek, on your cheek;
Put your finger on your cheek on your cheek;
Put your finger on your cheek
And leave it about a week;
Put your finger on your cheek, on your cheek.


Put your finger on your finger, on your finger;
Put you finger on your finger, on your finger;
Put your finger on your finger,
On your finger on your finger;
Put your finger on your finger, on your finger.


Put your fingers all together, all together;
Put your fingers all together, all together;
Put your fingers all together
And we'll clap for better weather;
Put your fingers all together, all together.