January 2015
University Child 
Development Center

635 Clyde Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15260
(P) 412.383.2100
(F) 412.383.2120

Director's Corner




Welcome back!  We hope that you had an enjoyable break and that you were able to spend time with loved ones building memories and having fun. 


With cold wintry weather in the forecast for the coming months, your children will likely be spending less time outside and will most certainly (if old enough) be complaining that they are bored and  have nothing to do.  Even though they surely received gifts and things to do, the newness of those items may have worn off.  You might be inclined to turn on the TV or hand over the laptop, iPad, or iPhone. 


There seems to be increasing acceptance of using technology with young children.  Materials and accessories are marketed towards the youngest children and claims are made that these items are appropriate and that your child will benefit from them.  Be cautious when considering technology for children younger than five and consider the following guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics:


Studies have shown that excessive media use can lead to attention problems, school difficulties, sleep and eating disorders, and obesity. In addition, the Internet and cell phones can provide platforms for illicit and risky behaviors. By limiting screen time and offering educational media and non-electronic formats such as books, newspapers and board games, and watching television with their children, parents can help guide their children's media experience. Putting questionable content into context and teaching kids about advertising contributes to their media literacy. The AAP recommends that parents establish "screen-free" zones at home by making sure there are no televisions, computers or video games in children's bedrooms, and by turning off the TV during dinner. Children and teens should engage with entertainment media for no more than one or two hours per day, and that should be high-quality content. It is important for kids to spend time on outdoor play, reading, hobbies, and using their imaginations in free play. Television and other entertainment media should be avoided for infants and children under age 2. A child's brain develops rapidly during these first years, and young children learn best by interacting with people, not screens.


Remember that hands-on, creative learning provides ample opportunity for children to learn to work together, develop social skills, language skills, problem solving skills and increase their critical thinking abilities.  Active learning takes advantage of children's natural desire to move and touch. Young children love to manipulate items and explore new ideas.  They enjoy the opportunity to see how things work and to test their own theories.  So, the next time your child is looking for something to do, provide the materials, space and time.  Then step back and watch.  You might be surprised at how much more your child will discover through active involvement.



Mary Beth

Curriculum in the Classroom
Infant Four

One of our favorite activities in Infant 4 is working with "loose parts."  What are loose parts?  Loose parts are materials that have no set of directions or set way to use them.  Basically, they are randomly assorted items.  They can be used in a variety of ways, and put together for even more purposes. 


When given to children, the children can explore them freely, without any preconceived notions about how to use them, inventing new uses for the materials.  Letting children engage in open-ended exploration fosters problem-solving skills and creativity. 


Some of our children's preferred items are old CDs, containers and lids of different sizes, carpet samples, napkin rings, and large cardboard tubes.  With these materials we have recently seen our children conducting science experiments to see which items will fit down inside a large tube ("Does it fit?  No, it is too big.").  We have learned about balance, trying to stack different items on top of each other without them falling down.  We then LOVE to knock our towers down, of course!  We have tried to match up the various lids with the containers, learning about size and classification ("Did you find a match?  This lid fits!").  We have worked to fill the larger containers with smaller containers and other items, testing and comparing their volumes to see what can fit.  Our children figured out they could create their own instruments, putting smaller objects inside containers and giving them a good shake.  We touched the different textures of carpet, comparing the rougher and softer threads.  One child pretended a small carpet sample was a cell phone.  Soon two others joined the fun, and everyone was saying, "Hi!  Hi!" into their pretend phones. 

 The possibilities are endless!


School Choice: St. Edmund's Academy


Navigating the number of school choices that are available in the Pittsburgh area for your child can be a daunting task. There are so many private, magnet, and charter school choices out there. In our newsletter, we plan to highlight one school a month in order to help inform families. UCDC does not endorse the schools that are highlighted in this section - we are only offering the vast choices that are available. A great resource for finding your options is the website - Great Schools 

At St. Edmund's Academy, well-rounded students and teachers combine their passion for their work with their compassion for others.  As an independent, non-denominational, coeducational school for students in Preschool through 8th grade, we teach students to follow our six Core Values while pursuing success in a rigorous academic curriculum, interscholastic athletics and the arts. Understanding that every child is an individual with unique strengths, St. Edmund's Academy is a school where the sculptors and writers, the athletes and inventors, the mathematicians and musicians can thrive. Visit us on Darlington Road to experience first-hand our vibrant, child-centered community!


Monthly Family Gathering
Each month, UCDC picks a family friendly location for families to meet and spend time together. UCDC teachers or staff may or may not attend, but this is a time for families to get to know each other and explore the city. UCDC will not host the event, but will just suggest a date, time, and location for families to spend time together.


This month, we are suggesting a meeting at the Children's Museum of Pittsburgh in the North Side. This museum is perfect for babies all the way up to tweens. Admission is $14 for adults, $13 for children ages 2-18, free for children under age 2, and $13 for seniors. If you are interested in spending your Saturday with some of the children your child spends their days with, plan on meeting at the Children's Museum on Saturday, January 17th. Families could gather in the art room around 11:00 am - if interested. There are plenty of fun plans for that day at the Museum including a gymnastics presentation in the afternoon and the potter's wheel in the art room. 


News to Know
  •  UCDC will be closed on Monday, January 19th in observance of Martin Luther King, Jr Day. Enjoy the long weekend spent with your little ones!
  • In case you haven't heard - the Pittsburgh Zoo and Aquarium will be closed for a long portion of this winter for renovations. The expected closure began on January 5th and they plan to reopen on Saturday, February 14th. 
  • Check out this link to help prepare your preschooler for Kindergarten. You can sign up to receive Kindergarten, Here I Come or Kindergarten Here I Am newsletters! Each month, receive tips that you can use to help your preschooler prepare for Kindergarten, or to help your Kindergartner have a successful school year. Click here to sign up.
  • We are excited to welcome our Duksung students at the end of this month. They will begin their two week practicum in Preschool 2 and Preschool 4. Eun Sun Choi and Yun Kyung Oh will start their experience on January 20thThank you to Arlo's family, Donna and Max for hosting the students.
  • Experimental Psychology students will complete preschool observations in early February.
  • Nutrition students will visit toddler and preschool classrooms on February 17th.
  • Speech and hearing screenings for 3-6 year old children will be held on January 28th, February 4th, and February 11th. If you are interested in having your preschooler screened, please return the permission slip that was in your child's mailbox as soon as possible. 
  • IMPORTANT! PLEASE READ!!!  We need your help in assuring that our security plan works. As part of our security plan, we have a card reader at our front door in order to limit access to the general public. We are asking that every person that enters this building does so with a swipe of their ID card. If you are not affiliated with the University of Pittsburgh or you lost your Pitt ID, we are asking that you please get an ID as soon as possible in order to be able to use it to enter our building. 
UCDC Philosophy Explained


Parent Question: I love how comfortable our family feels at UCDC. The importance of a home-like environment is obvious. Can you explain why UCDC places such high importance on this?


We place high value on creating an environment for children that feels homelike and comfortable. A lot of the children in our care spend large portions of their day at UCDC, so we want them to feel safe and comfortable in their physical environment. We also know the teachers are most comfortable working in a space that feels like their home. Knowing that the environment speaks strongly to a person and has a strong influence on how they behave and feel, we try to create a feeling of comfort through purposeful design of each classroom.


In the classrooms, we use subdued colors, which help to relax - as opposed to excite. You may also notice touches from home in each classroom such as pillows, framed artwork, plants, window coverings, or three-dimensional pieces of art. Typically rugs are scattered throughout the classroom in order to define learning areas and soften the environment. Teachers create spaces to be alone for the children, just like you would have in your home. The lighting is purposely chosen to create a mood (e.g. sometimes lamps are solely used during quieter times of the day). We also encourage families to contribute artifacts to their child's classroom. When a child brings in something from home to hang on the wall or to be displayed on a shelf, it automatically gives them a stronger sense of belonging.


In order for children to take the risks that are inherent in learning, they need to feel safe and comfortable. That's what we aim for at UCDC. We want all children to feel loved and secure at UCDC - in their home away from home!

Did You Know?


Did you know that there is research validating our approach to family style meals and letting children serve themselves, making them less likely to overeat and more likely to try new foods? 




Preschool Wisdoms

We asked the children in Preschool Four the question...If you could be invisible for one day, what would you do?

  • I would scare people.  I would freeze and when they turned around, I'd go "Raah!" and scare them.
  • I would use a remote control. I'd zap you into another world with the dinosaurs!
  • I would play games like Orchard.
  • I would fly.
  • I would be at home and put my animals in a tent with my brother, and I would not come out!
  • I would go anywhere I wanted. Like to my house, and I could steal candy from my candy bag. I would also go to Idewild and I would ride on every ride even if I wasn't tall enough.
  • I would drive so far in a mountain really fast and have so much fun!
  • I would play tricks on people. I would knock on their door and before they could open their door I would disappear.
  • I would go on a big boat in Chicago.
  • At naptime I could sneak outside and play on waterslides!
  • I would eat candy! I could maybe stay up all night and eat ice cream and play in my closet.
  • I would stay home and play all day with all the toys that I had!
  • I would turn on the lights.
  • I would break something. I would get a horse. And I would eat the whole fridge and play on my iPod all day.
  • I would go to the sun and never come back. Everyone could come and see me there.