UCDC Developments
June 2012
Digging Area 6.12

Child Planting BeansSummer has arrived, so UCDC children will be spending more time outside enjoying the beautiful weather. 


It is clear that the importance of outdoor play is a valuable part of early childhood, yet it is happening less and less in many programs, schools, and homes. Getting back to nature and creating natural environments (rather than accessing available natural elements) has become part of the early childhood landscape over the past few years.  You can actually buy faux boulders for thousands of dollars, rather than letting children climb on natural elements that already exist in nature.  Experts discuss the benefits of going outdoors, but then say that you shouldn't expose children to sticks, limbs, or tree roots, which are part of the natural landscape.


At UCDC, we recognize the value of going outdoors and the staff is committed to making sure that children have appropriate, varied, and safe experiences either on the playground or during a walk. Applying sunscreen, using hats, utilizing buggies and strollers, keeping kids hydrated, gauging appropriate temperatures and length of time to stay outside, supervising the group, and providing learning opportunities during outside time happens every. On most days, it happens twice.


Additionally, we have outdoor classroom days and water days during the warmer months.  Both are huge commitments to the children and children absolutely love these special days.


During outdoor classroom days, one classroom is responsible for providing age appropriate activities for all groups to experience while they are on the playground.  The classroom who designs the experiences spends the whole morning on the playground while the other groups use their assigned time to  come and go, taking advantage of the unique and exciting activities that have been set out for everyone to explore and use.


During water days, a sprinkler and water activities are set up for classrooms to use.  Water days are rotated and children can participate at any level that they are comfortable with.   We have heard on more than one occasion that "water days" are children's favorite days at UCDC.


Gardening with children is also in full swing in both classrooms and outdoors.  Again, teachers use creative ways to garden without actually having a "garden."  Planters and containers will soon be in bloom.  Classrooms are planting grass, beans, and herbs.  During these activities, children are encouraged to use critical thinking, estimation, math and science skills. Children experience the opportunity to learn about responsibility while caring for the plants, which becomes a life skill.

Children have also been playing in the dirt box; using skills of negotiation and cooperation, while developing fine and gross motor skills along the way.  Creativity and problem solving happen in a very natural and beneficial way while developing social skills among peers.  If you watch the children in the dirt box, I'm sure that you'll be reminded of your own childhood and the times that you spent outside.


Classrooms also spend time outside at the Botanical Garden on Devonshire Avenue.  A leisurely stroll through the shady gardens is a lovely morning activity for both younger and older children.


As we continue to explore more options for providing unique opportunities for children outdoors, we will be adding new materials and items to encourage open ended, loose part play on the playground.  If you have any thoughts about the playground, please don't hesitate to contact me.  We are always looking for more creative minds to help us explore the endless possibilities of outdoor play.




Mary Beth



Child with Tree Stump 6.12
The Perfect Playground
By Christina Fink, Toddler 4


What is your idea of a perfect playground? If the words "natural," "safe," and "outdoors in nature" come to mind, you are on the right track. A playground needs to replicate nature and provide a variety of areas for children to play.  Gardens, streams, loose parts, places to get away from crowds, and things to create, are all things that help make a great play area.  A grassy area is needed for running and game playing. A climbing structure is needed to develop motor skills. A hard surface is needed for balls and bikes. A sand/dirt box is important for children to have sensory activities. Providing many areas along with a shaded, relaxing area gives children many options when at a playground.


Bringing the inside out is a great way to add to your playground. Allowing children to experience not just physical activities outside, but also dramatic play and art is important. Painting, play dough, and chalk are few examples of things that you could bring outside. Or you could put water color in spray bottles and have the children spray paint the paper. Children can also bring dress up clothes and kitchen items outside for variety. Having a picnic outside and encouraging children to use sticks, leaves, rocks, and other items found in nature will help foster their imagination. Using blocks and building materials outside will give children a different perspective on a typical classroom activity. The materials that you bring outside don't have to have a specific use but could be open-ended items like a box or a tub.  These types of materials really foster creativity.


The respect and appreciation of nature is also developed as children spend time outside. They will also be engaged in activities that will help to develop their five senses. When a child is watching TV, he/she is only using hearing and sight, while outdoor play has the ability to offer a multisensory experience.


While children are playing, it is very hard sometimes for adults not to intervene. Allowing children to make mistakes, explore the surroundings, and socialize will allow them to maximize their outdoor experiences. Adults also need to recognize that children need to test boundaries and skills and it is okay to let children jump, climb, and challenge themselves on the playground.


One of the largest concerns for parents when at a playground is safety. Here are four tips to help keep your child safe at the playground.  

  1. Supervision. It only takes one second for a child to become unsafe or injured. It is so important for parents to be vigilant while there child is playing.
  2. Close Inspection. Parents also need to make sure they are monitoring the areas were their child is playing. Not all children fit every area of a playground. Making sure you child is in an age appropriate area will help them stay safe. Most playgrounds are designed for children ages 2-5 and 5-12, so not all equipment fits all ages. A rule of thumb is if the child cannot reach the piece of equipment or go down the slide on their own then they should not be on it.
  3. Fall Surface. The higher the child is from the ground the harder they fall. A child 2-5 should be no higher than six feet from the ground. A child 5-12 should be no higher than eight feet from the ground.
  4. Maintenance. The final area to consider is the equipment and surfacing maintenance. Adults should be aware of any sharp edges, broken equipment, and in general any unsafe areas of the playground.

Here at UCDC, we are always looking for new ways to maximize your child's time on the playground. We are always trying out new activities and adding new items to the playground. We have recently added small tree stumps to the playground and digging materials to our dirt box that are readily accessible to the children. A few weeks ago, we collected lots of boxes and added them to the playground. The children loved sitting in them, building with them, pushing around their friends, and playing imaginatively with the boxes. Keep watching our playground for more and different materials as the seasons change.


Resources used:   


Early Childhood News. Take it outside!  By: Rea Pica

Early Childhood News. Outdoor Play: Design, Building, and Remolding Playground for Young Children. By: Francis Wardie, Ph.D.

Early Childhood News. Maximize Outdoor Play: Moving Interest Centers Outdoors By: Nancy P. Alexander 

Early Childhood News. Play SAFE: Tips for Parents to Remember When Taking Children to Playgrounds. By: Susan D. Hudson, Ph.D., Donna Thompson, Ph.D., and Heather M Olsen, M.A. 



Monkey and Me book 6.12
UCDC Reads by Toddler 4 
Monkey and Me by Emily Gravett


Monkey and Me is a fun story that follows a young child's exciting adventure with her stuffed monkey.  Throughout their journey, they see many interesting friends.  They spot penguins, kangaroos, bats, elephants, and yes, even real monkeys!  But, alas, the fun filled adventure eventually comes to an end as the child and her stuffed monkey finally fall asleep!


Monkey and Me is a Toddler 4 favorite for a couple of reasons.  First, its repetitive refrain ("monkey and me, monkey and me, monkey and me, we went to see, we went to see some...") is easy for the toddlers to remember and repeat.  Their favorite part of reading Monkey and Me is guessing and shouting out which animal the duo will run into next!  So don't be surprised if you walk past Toddler 4 and hear the children shouting "ELEPHANTS!" at the top of their lungs!  Young children everywhere can relate to Monkey and Me because, after all, what child doesn't love or appreciate animals? 



Child Jumping off Tree Stump
UCDC Philosophy Explained
By Jamie Wincovitch, Education Coordinator

Why isn't playground/gym time more organized at UCDC?


First and foremost, children of this young age aren't developmentally ready for organized sports. As an infant or toddler, they aren't yet ready to follow the rules of an organized game such as soccer and they don't have the gross motor coordination to be able to keep up with the physical demands of the sport either. Our younger preschoolers are quickly gaining the skills to be able to physically play the games, but their attention spans are still too short to engage in a full organized game. The older preschoolers are able to play more organized games and they will do this in the gym or on the playground. You won't see a completely structured game with full length quarters and organized positions on the playing field, but you might see some kids kicking around a soccer ball or practicing hitting a ball off of a tee.


What you may see is a teacher organizing a preschool class on the playground or in the gym to play a teacher initiated game such as Simon Says or Follow the Leader. These games require following directions and gross motor coordination, but are shorter and more age appropriate.


At UCDC, we have a strong play-based philosophy that is child-initiated and child-driven. Therefore, we choose to allow our children to freely explore their environment while in the gym and on the playground. If you would observe on any given day on our playground, you may see a group of children in the dirt box, another set of children playing a loosely organized game of soccer in the grassy area, a pair of children painting at the easel, another cluster of kids at the table with table toys, a group of infants on a blanket with small toys, some children on the climbers, and others putting on a show on the stage. There is much variance in the play that happens on the playground and that is purposefully designed to match UCDC's child-driven, play-based philosophy.

Down by the Bay
Song Lyrics - Down by the Bay
Preschool 4

The preschool child is a natural rhymer and if you have one, you can definitely relate. They will find a rhyme for any and every word (the sillier, the better!). As preschoolers gain language confidence, they love to find ways to play with language and rhyming is VERY popular with them. Therefore, it's clear why this is a favorite song with the kids in Preschool Four. It's silly, repetitive, and it RHYMES! Hope you enjoy this ear worm!
Down by the bay, 
Where the watermelons grow,
Back to my home, 
I dare not go. 
For if I do, 
My mother will say, 
"Did you ever see a fly 
Wearing a tie?" 
Down by the bay.

Down by the bay, 
Where the watermelons grow,
Back to my home, 
I dare not go. 
For if I do, 
My mother will say, 
"Did you ever see a bear 
Combing his hair?" 
Down by the bay. 

Down by the bay, 
Where the watermelons grow,
Back to my home, 
I dare not go. 
For if I do, 
My mother will say, 
"Did you ever see a moose 
Kissing a goose?" 
Down by the bay.

Down by the bay, 
Where the watermelons grow, 
Back to my home, 
I dare not go. 
For if I do, 
My mother will say, 
"Did you ever see a whale 
With a polka dot tail?" 
Down by the bay. 

Down by the bay, 
Where the watermelons grow, 
Back to my home,
I dare not go. 
For if I do, 
My mother will say, 
"Did you ever see a llama 
Wearing pajamas?" 
Down by the bay. 

Down by the bay, 
Where the watermelons grow,
Back to my home, 
I dare not go. 
For if I do, 
My mother will say, 
"Did you ever have a time 
When you couldn't make a rhyme?" 
Down by the bay. 
Infant One Teachers
Spotlight on Staff - Infant One

We have adopted a new format to this section of the newsletter and we will no longer highlight one staff member, but a classroom or office team. We have also revised the questions as well. I hope you enjoy our first set of Interviews with the Infant One teachers. They are: Heidi Kalsani, Head Teacher; Amanda Sloan, Associate Teacher; and Hannah Garard, Assistant Teacher. Enjoy!


If you were an animal, what kind of animal would you be?

  • "I'd be a dolphin." - Heidi
  • "I would totally be my dog, Sydney - She has a pretty awesome life!" - Amanda
  • "Either a bird, because I think it would be wonderful to fly, or a panda cause they are adorable and cuddly." - Hannah


What is the last book that you read?

  • "The Last Song by Nicolas Sparks" - Heidi
  • "The Great House by Nicole Krauss" - Amanda
  • "I think it would be Travels with Charlie by John Steinbeck" - Hannah


If you could be a superhero, what would you want your superpowers to be?

  • "Time expansion" - Heidi
  • "I'd definitely want to fly so that I could be anywhere at any time." - Amanda
  • "I think teleportation and telepathy would be my top picks." - Hannah


If Hollywood made a movie about your life, whom would you like to see play the lead role as you?

  • "Drew Barrymore" - Heidi
  • "Drew Barrymore, I like that she's quirky." - Amanda
  • "I actually have no idea, I know people would not want to play me... but I don't know many actresses to choose from." - Hannah


Which is the one television character that you simply adore?

  • "Monica from Friends" - Heidi
  • "Sheldon from the Big Bang Theory" - Amanda
  • "This is a tricky one, but I like older TV shows and would have to say Higgins in Magnum PI or Sherlock Holmes in the TV series with Basil Rathbone. I don't make decisions well..." - Hannah


What did you have for breakfast this morning?

  • "Oatmeal" - Heidi
  • "Coffee!!!" - Amanda
  • "Yogurt and strawberries with my Infant 1 friends." - Hannah


What would you do if you had a time machine?

  • "I'd go back to the day my daughter was born." - Heidi
  • "Go back to meet my grandparents, because I never had a chance to." - Amanda
  • "I would travel back in time to ancient Roman Empire, colonial America and both Europe and America in the 19-teens and forties." - Hannah


What was your most recent traveling experience?

  • "We went to California." - Heidi
  • "Visiting my brother in DC." - Amanda
  • "Italy for a couple weeks!!" - Hannah


If you won $20 million in the lottery, what would you do with the money?

  • "I'd share it with my family." - Heidi
  • "I'd pay off that pesky debt, donate a bunch to charities, buy a teal moped, and divide the rest among my family and friends." - Amanda
  • "I would have to give a lot away to people in need and organizations how help people in need. I would save a little and then use the rest to travel the world." - Hannah


What's your first memory of UCDC?

  • "When I first came into the building for my interview, I was so impressed with the building and the way Mary Beth described the child-centered philosophy. I knew this is the place I wanted to be!" - Heidi
  • "Meeting one of the babies for the first time when she was teeny tiny with stranger anxiety!" - Amanda
  • "My first memory at UCDC would be my very first day as a substitute in Infant 1 and meeting Heidi and Amanda and the wonderful babies in Infant 1. AND scrubbing down the chairs after lunch (turkey chili, I think). Believe it or not, it is a good memory." - Hannah
I hope you enjoyed this edition of the newsletter. See you next month!
In This Issue
The Perfect Playground
UCDC Reads - Monkey and Me by Emily Gravett
UCDC Philosophy Explained - Organized Sports
Song Lyrics - Down by the Bay
Important Information

Important Information

Kindergarten Bound Child  


If you have a child who will be entering Kindergarten this year, please provide the office with their official last day as soon as possible. Advance notice allows us to plan for transitions within the building and access the waiting list in a more efficient way.  




Staff Appreciation Dinner 


To all parents and families who contributed to the Staff Appreciation Dinner in any way and to the families and friends that were able to join us for the dinner- THANK YOU! The dinner was a huge success and our goal of showing appreciation to the very special and unique individuals that take care of your children was certainly achieved. If you were not able to join us this year, please try to join us next year. It is a very special evening and we think that you'll enjoy it very much!




Parking Lot Safety


Please exercise caution and maintain a slow speed in our parking lot and on Clyde Street. Children spend a lot of time outside in the summer months and traffic has been unusually heavy. Also, please encourage your child to stay close to you or to hold your hand in the lot and on the sidewalk.   We are teaching children the importance of staying with their group and not running ahead and could use your support!




Families Leaving UCDC 


To families who will be leaving us in the coming months- it has been a joy and a privilege to have you as a part of our UCDC family. We wish you all the best as you and your child begin to have new and exciting experiences outside the walls of UCDC.




UCDC Bags  


We have several extra bags left over from the Staff Appreciation Dinner. They are blue, drawstring, backpack-type bags with UCDC printed on them. If you are interested in purchasing one, please come to the main office. We are selling them for $3 per bag. Again, thanks for your support!