UCDC Developments
October 2012

In This Issue
KidStuff Coupon Books
Letter from the Director
Learning is Everywhere
UCDC Reads by Preschool 4
UCDC Philosophy Explained - Reading Readiness
The Wheels on the Bus
Spotlight on Staff - Infant 2

Thanks So Much!
KidStuff Logo
Thanks so much to everyone who helped make our KidStuff Coupon Books fundraiser a success! We sold 95% of the books, making it a HUGE accomplishment!

Holiday Celebrations

Fall is a very busy time of the year with many different family activities available. Families may go apple picking, to the pumpkin patch, or on a hike to see the leaves change.

Fall also brings us Halloween. We just wanted to remind you that in keeping with the Center's philosophy, we WILL NOT be celebrating Halloween.

Some of the reasons include:
  • We serve a diverse population, some of whom may not celebrate the holiday.
  • Some of our families have restricted budgets and we try to eliminate any additional out of pocket expenses imposed by the Center.
  • Our nutritional program exists to expose children to a variety of nutritional selections and limits junk foods. We also have many children with food allergies.
  • Halloween costumes can be very scary for young children.  

If you choose to celebrate Halloween at home, we hope that you and your family have a pleasant holiday.  


We thank you in advance for refraining from bringing anything into the classroom that would focus the children's attention away from the normal day of activity.  



Quite a few years ago I attended a workshop and the presenter asked each of the participants a question: "if you have children, or think you will have children, what are the things that you wish for them when they reach adulthood?"


Participants were encouraged to think for a short period of time and then had an opportunity to share their answers.   Most participants spoke about having family that cared, being loved and loving someone else deeply, being in a fulfilling relationship, doing something rewarding in life, being happy, having families of their own and enjoying life, doing things that mattered to others, and helping people.

 holding hands

What I found to be very interesting was that most participants wanted something very different for their children, than they themselves, were working on or working towards.


Money did not seem to be an issue or a wish; having an important, high power career did not seem to be as important as doing something that they loved (can one have both?); achieving greatness was not a common answer. Hoping that their child was the best wasn't as important as wanting them to be happy. Having a big car, big house and lots of stuff wasn't on the list at all.


As parents, we sacrifice a lot and have great hopes and dreams of the kind of child we will raise and what they will become as they grow older. The path is not always easy and sometimes it is not what you expect or understand.   One thing is certain - all children have the potential to succeed and be happy in life, and much of what they do and feel and much of who they become is in direct correlation to who their parents are and the life that they live.


As a parent, we want things to be perfect or as close to perfect as possible. We strive to make things manageable and create a happy supportive environment for our children. We wipe away the tears and hope our child is never hurt and we should do all of these things.   We should also empower them; create opportunities for them so learn social norms and expectations. We should also allow them to problem solve and think critically. We should allow them to explore and be creative. Letting them choose their own path when they get older, based on their skills, their talents, their hopes, dreams and wishes is difficult but necessary. Give them the tools to be a contributing member of society and the grace and wisdom to understand how they fit into that society. Provide opportunities for your child to learn about dignity and respect. Don't just use the words, actively show them what those things look like and feel like. Empower them to make good choices and good decisions based on the wisdom they get from you and from the good choices and decisions you make.


So, the question is, "What do you wish for your child?" and more importantly "What will you do to help that become a reality?" I hope this gets you thinking and whether your child is 10 months, 2, 3 or 4 years old, or older than that, now is a perfect time to start to think about the answers.




Mary Beth



Learning Is Everywhere  
Activities to Do with Your Young Child  

By Amber Pinchback, Preschool 4


Memories of the early years are very precious to each family, especially keeping track of new experiences and early achievements. In Preschool Four, there is never a shortage of art work, projects, books, and writing that fill each child's mailbox daily.


Although, we as teachers do our best to share the wonderful discoveries and creations made throughout the day, much of the beauty is in the process it takes for each child.

The Pennsylvania Promise for Children campaign (sponsored by the PA Build Initiative, PA Early Learning Keys to Quality, The Grable Foundation, The Heinz Endowments, and The William Penn Foundation, in partnership with the PA Office of Child Development and Early Learning) created the Learning is Everywhere calendar. This calendar is an excellent, practical resource for families that provides activities to do with your child at home with things around the house. This monthly themed calendar consists of four age-appropriate activities (varying from infancy to Kindergarten) based on the Pennsylvania Early Learning Standards that will help teach new skills and stimulate your child's creativity and curiosity. In addition to the four activities each month, you and your child can create an About Me Book that documents something learned or an experience each month centered on the theme which will allow you to look at your child's development over the course of a year. The calendar also provides a wonderful list of suggested books (many that can be found in our UCDC library) that will help discuss/ educate your child on each topic.


Each page of the calendar introduces a different theme for the month. This is followed by a brief overview of what skills can be learned through exploring this topic. There is a Me Book activity for each age level, and four activities for each age level looking at key learning areas of the month's theme. At the bottom of each page is a list of suggested books listed with the title and author. January's theme of In the Kitchen is heavily centered on discoveries in the kitchen and mathematics. Food brings us all together and there is much to learn from cooking and eating whether it's measuring, time keeping, patterns, trial and error, sensory experiences (all five senses can be stimulated when cooking) or more language oriented like learning new descriptive words, or following directions.  Other month's themes include: Visiting the Doctor's Office, In the Bedroom, It's Time to Tell Your Story, Trip to the Grocery Store, In the Neighborhood, Doing the Laundry, In an Early Learning Program, In the Living Room, Going Outside, In the Bathroom, and In the Car/ On the Bus.


This calendar is a wonderful teaching tool for every home. The layout of the calendar is very straight forward yet leaves room to go as broad or deep as you would like the experience to go. This calendar will hopefully provide home learning experiences that you and your child can share together that goes beyond the classroom.


Click here to download the calendar to start using it with your family today!


UCDC Reads by Preschool 4
Where Is Ben?
by Marisabina Russo

Preschool 4 has recently enjoyed a book together called Where Is Ben? by Marisabina Russo. This simple story is about a little boy named Ben, who is playing hide and seek with his mother while she is baking an apple pie in the kitchen. The mother patiently leaves her work in the kitchen as she goes searching through the house to look for Ben every time he calls, "Mama, come find me." Playfully, the mother goes along with the game searching and saying, "Where is Ben?" Each time the mother lovingly finds Ben in each of his hiding places; behind the coat rack, under the laundry basket, in the closet, and finally under the covers of his bed. Mama then tucks Ben in for his nap and together they plan to have apple pie when he awakes.


This story naturally prompted the children to be a part of the story as they all helped to repeat the line; "Mama, come find me." They also carefully studied the illustrations looking for clues to help them discover where Ben was hiding. The loving thoughts of playtime between Ben and his Mama also sparked a happy discussion and sharing time about games that the children like to play at home. The thoughts of delicious apple pie also made us each want to tell our own favorite type of pie or dessert that we enjoyed eating with our families. It turned out to be a very happy and yummy discussion!

Child Reading UCDC Philosophy Explained: Answers to Common Parent Questions
By Jamie Wincovitch, Education Coordinator

Question: Since there is no direct reading instruction at UCDC, how will my child learn to read?


The teachers at UCDC capitalize on the children's natural interest in language at this very young age. Emergent literacy describes the ongoing process of understanding and acquiring language beginning at birth. First, children explore and learn the spoken language and then go on to understand the written word.


Therefore, in each age group, the children are exposed to developmentally appropriate means of teaching early literacy. In the infant room, a teacher picking up a baby, gazing into her eyes and gently speaking to her is a beginning step in literacy. It helps the baby to understand the give and take manner of language as she coos and the teacher pauses to listen before responding. By age one, a baby may be beginning to label objects and the teachers respond by repeating the child's attempt at a word or filling in a word when the child points to an object.


In toddler-hood and through the preschool years, children are acquiring language at an astronomical rate and the classrooms become an avenue for them to practice these sounds as the teachers design a program to promote literacy. Reading books to children teaches children that the words on a page have meaning and tell a story. After listening to a story, they may retell the story using flannel board pieces or a story box (a shoebox with the main character(s) and popular scene included  to allow the child to retell the story).


The teachers will also create a variety of literacy activities on a daily basis in order to assist in a child's reading development. They may sort objects by syllables, play restaurant in the dramatic play area, or make signs for their block building. Matching, sorting, and sequencing objects such as buttons also contribute to children's emerging literacy skills. Teachers will also offer fine motor activities such as playing with tiny Legos, working with small tools in clay, or fitting small pegs into a pegboard to strengthen the small muscles in their hands that will later enable them to write.


Becoming a good reader is an important component to school success. But, forcing this on a child too early (i.e. the programs that teach babies to read), eliminates the important aspect of communication and language development, including the give and take nature of language, the playful nature of conversation, and human interaction. By giving your child a strong background of language before formal reading instruction, you will help them to be better at comprehension in the long run.


At UCDC, we aim to make reading fun, engaging, and interactive. We do not drill children on letters or letter sounds. We find ways to make a game out of it and we use their curiosity and interests to drive their literacy development. Consider this:


Between the ages of four and nine, your child will have to master some 100 phonics rules, learn to recognize 3,000 words with just a glance, and develop a comfortable reading speed approaching 100 words a minute. He must learn to combine words on the page with a half-dozen squiggles called punctuation into something - a voice or image in his mind that gives back meaning. (Paul Kropp, 1996)


In an attempt to make this more natural and easier, we focus on the development of the love of reading and bringing books alive. This will allow your child to excel at comprehension and grow their vocabulary, which will then ease the transition to reading when they are taught the job of a quotation mark or an exclamation point in a sentence. Reading readiness happens gradually and our teachers support each stage of this in every classroom in developmentally appropriate ways.


Things to do at home to help your child become a reader:

  • Read to your child at home every single day! Also make sure there are plenty of books available to your child at your home. Having them in your child's bedroom at their level is a great idea. You may also have a few baskets of books scattered around your home for easy access.
  • Run your finger under the words as you read them to reinforce the idea that words have meaning and that words are driving the story.
  • Stop and look at the pictures on each page. Let them talk about what they see and what is going on in the picture. See if they can predict what will happen next based on the picture in the book. Don't let this "interrupt" the story - if a child wants to talk about the picture, don't try to march on with the book and ignore their request to slow down. Reading with an adult allows this wonderful interaction and helps children learn to love reading.
  • Make up funny voices and supplement the story with sounds (claps, knocks, etc) to make the story come alive. This will help your child get excited about reading.
  • If there is repeated text in the story, invite your child to join in! Also, if there is a favorite book and your child wants to read it over and over - do it! This repetition is important for children (especially toddlers) and they may even start to pick up some of the words in the story. Some children will even memorize entire books!
  • Discuss the contents of the story. Ask your child how the story relates to their life. By doing this, you are making the book meaningful to them.
  • Finally, when your child does learn how to read, KEEP READING TO THEM! They have the ability to understand much more difficult content than they have the ability to read. The joy of books will continue to be fostered through being read to regularly! Of course they will want to read to you as well. When this happens, give them lots of positive feedback on their attempts and when they struggle with a particular word (more than three seconds), simply give it to them and move on. If you force them to attempt to sound it out, they will lose the meaning of the story (lowering their comprehension ability).


Song Lyrics by Infant 3 
The Wheels on the Bus 

This is a favorite of the Infant 3 gang right now. You can hear the teachers singing this song through the hallways, during diaper changes, and on a walk. If you listen carefully, you can also hear some of the babies singing along!

The Wheels of the Bus


The wheels on the bus go round and round,

round and round,

round and round.

The wheels on the bus go round and round,

All through the town.


The wipers on the bus go swish, swish, swish,

Swish, swish, swish,

Swish, swish, swish.

The wipers on the bus go swish, swish, swish,

All through the town.


The horn on the bus goes beep, beep, beep;

Beep, beep, beep,

Beep, beep, beep.

The horn on the bus goes beep, beep, beep,

All through the town.


The people on the bus go up and down,

Up and down,

Up and down.

The people on the bus go up and down,

All through the town.


The driver on the bus says "Move on back,

Move on back,

Move on back."

The Driver on the bus says, "Move on back,"

All through the town.


The babies on the bus cry, "Wah, wah, wah,

Wah, wah, wah,

Wah, wah, wah."

The babies on the bus cry, "Wah, wah, wah,"

All through the town.


Since this song is so well structured and repetitive in nature, it's easy to change the lyrics for just about any occasion. You may ask your child what they might see on the bus and then what they think that thing might do. You might get a logical response such as "I see phones on the bus." You could change the song to "The phones on the bus go 'ring, ring, ring.'" If you have a preschooler, they are likely to say something silly like "I see lions on the bus!" So you can definitely go with it and sing, "The lions on the bus go 'roar, roar, roar!'" It's one of those songs that just about anything goes! By allowing your child to make up their own story by adding to an existing one, you are promoting a very important early literacy skill!


It's also fun to change your location in the song as well. So instead of "All through the town," you can sing "All through Pittsburgh!" or wherever else you may be traveling. It's a great car song!

Spotlight on Staff 
Infant 2


This month, we'd like to invite you to get to know the Infant 2 teaching team. Take a minute to read their responses to the interview questions!


What would you tell someone who is thinking about sending their child to UCDC?

  • "They have REALLY good mac and cheese!" - Nicole
  • "It's worth the wait." - Steph
  • "Get on the waiting list now!" - Emily

What was the last movie you went to see at the movie theater?

  • "The Campaign" - Nicole
  • "It's been a while..." - Steph
  • "Rocky Horror Picture Show at the Hollywood in Dormont" - Emily

How would a good friend describe you?

  • "Caring and fun" - Nicole
  • "Hilarious and Leprechanish" - Steph
  • "Dorky and weird" - Emily

Where did you work when you were in college?

  • "The Radisson in Monroeville and the Carriage House" - Nicole
  • "UCDC - in Toddler 1 and Toddler 3" - Steph
  • "At Community theatre, Pittsburgh Public Schools, and the Eagle's Nest" - Emily

How would you describe yourself in three adjectives?

  • "Patient, kind, and super organized" - Nicole
  • "Super fun, loyal, and punctual" - Steph
  • "Goofy, fun-loving, giggly" - Emily

What did you watch on TV last night?

  • "Friends reruns" - Nicole
  • "Greek" - Steph
  • "Chelsea Lately" - Emily

What is your favorite tradition from your childhood?

  • "Dying Easter eggs with my Gram and Pap" - Nicole
  • "Passing nut rolls out to all the teachers in my grade" - Steph
  • "Fish on Fridays and spaghetti and meatballs on Sundays at Grandma's" - Emily

What's your favorite place to eat?

  • "Somma's Pizza up the street" - Nicole
  • "Hasting's Moose for pizza and wings" - Steph
  • "Ruggers Pub on South Side. Pickle chips!" - Emily

If you could trade places with any other person for a week, famous or not famous, living or deceased, real or fictional, with whom would it be?

  • "That's tough for me - maybe my Dad." - Nicole
  • "My cousin Barefoot Bob! He travels and helps to rebuild third world countries." - Steph
  • "My boyfriend, Evan, so he could understand my wackiness better!" - Emily

What is your favorite time of the day?

  • "Evening" - Nicole
  • "Bedtime" - Steph
  • "NOT morning!" - Emily


University Child Development Center
635 Clyde Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15260
(Ph) 412.383.2100
(F) 412.383.2120