June 2015
University Child 
Development Center

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

Director's Corner


Thank you to all parents and staff that attended the Staff Appreciation Dinner on May 29th.  It was a lovely evening that honored our teachers and staff and we are extremely appreciative of any part that you may have played in making it a success.


Unfortunately, not all families and teachers were able to attend this lovely celebration. Knowing that not everyone was able to attend, we housed our Teacher Tribute at UCDC in our entryway so that everyone would be able to benefit from seeing how our teachers are valued. I'd also like to share the speech that I gave at the dinner for those of you that weren't able to attend. I truly appreciate the teachers and staff at UCDC and no words could express my gratitude to them, but here was my attempt at capturing their value...


In many years of child care, I've been in a lot of centers, talked to a lot of staff from other centers and worked with many directors.  Based on those experiences, I can guarantee you two things: one is that our approach to working with your children, our curriculum, our philosophy and our beliefs about what children need and deserve, makes absolute sense.  While other programs are restructuring and moving away from play and relationships being at the core of a child's day, we have always believed and continue to believe that this is truly what's most important for young children.  There is plenty of research to support our theory, but we just believe it in our hearts.  We know that when children leave us, the methods that we use help them to adjust and keep them on the path of wanting to learn and being excited about learning.


The second thing I know from my experiences is that when it comes to a group of people entrusted to care for very small children, I would want nobody else except for the people that are sitting in this room right now.  Their devotion and commitment to children and families is beyond anything that you would see in another facility.  Yes they are professional and dependable, but beyond that, their genuine capacity to give of themselves, no matter what might be needed, exceeds anything that I've seen in any other program.  I would like to share an example of that genuine and honest support with you all. A few years ago, we had a child who was going to join the program and he had been diagnosed with Sensory Integration Disorder (SID).  The family met with the head teacher, the head teacher met with her staff and before I could make any suggestions about preparing for him to join the class, the teacher came to me and told me that they all agreed they needed to learn more to support the new child coming into their classroom.  In order to prepare, they had searched for and found a training about SID.  They all wanted to go regardless of the fact that it was on a Saturday.  I registered them, they attended and were prepared for when the child joined UCDC.  Not a day goes by where I don't witness some form of this genuine capacity to make sure that children and families have what they need in order to be successful and thrive.  It's what sets our teachers apart from others and it's what ensures that your children get the best care possible. 


Many thanks to the teachers and staff- for their daily work and support, thank you to Marlene, Jennifer, Jamie and Carrie for working so hard to put together an evening that shows our appreciation for the teachers and the care they provide.  UCDC is truly a magical place where children are encouraged to grow and learn, work together and play, and develop skills that will sustain them in the years to come.



Mary Beth

Curriculum in the Classroom
Toddler Four

"Rain, rain, go away"... but not yet!


With spring in full bloom, that often means rain. Toddler 4 very much enjoys going outside to play on the playground and gets very upset when it is raining and they have to stay in the classroom. They often ask why it is raining. We have been reading many books about rainy days and different types of clouds on the unfortunate days that we need to stay inside. Reading these books has sparked an interest in how it rains with our toddlers.  This led us to making our own rain clouds and rain.


In this experiment, we filled clear plastic cups up with air (water). We then added a cloud (white foam paint) to the tops of our cups. The children used pipettes to drop rain (colored water) onto their cloud. After dropping a few drops of "rain" onto their cloud, it began to rain in their cup. We asked them why they think clouds sometimes make rain. Their answers varied from to water the flowers to so we can wear rain boots and rain coats.  As it continued to rain in their cups, the teachers explained that the bigger a cloud gets the more water or rain it has. This makes the cloud so heavy that the water begins to fall to the ground. We ensured the kids that it also rains so they can wear their rain boots and rain coats and to water the flowers.

Not only did the children learn about why clouds sometimes rain they also had a chance to use their fine motor skills when working with the pipettes. This experiment turned into the ultimate rainy day project!

School Choice: 
Fanny Edel Falk Laboratory School


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 options is the website - Great Schools 


Fanny Edel Falk Laboratory School is a K-8 tuition-based campus laboratory school affiliated with the School of Education at the University of Pittsburgh. Since 1931, Falk has been known for providing a learning environment that is grounded in community, diversity, progressive and experiential education, individualized instruction and a low teacher-student ratio.

Being grounded in progressive education principles means the school community has a child-centered approach to learning that focuses on the social, emotional and academic needs of each individual. It also means an emphasis on collaboration, intrinsic motivation, and active learning. Instruction revolves around an inquiry-based model that requires children to reflect upon and take ownership of their own learning.

Spotlight on Staff


This month, we were curious to ask our teachers the question...


Aside from food, water, and shelter, what one thing could you not go a day without?


  • "It's a toss-up between coffee/caffeine and music... Without either, the day's not looking good..."  - Emily Marsh, Infant 2
  • "Every day I look forward to hugs from my family, smiles from the children, my cup of tea, and my warm bed at night!" - Claudia Geisler, Preschool Four
  • "I wouldn't want to go without a toothbrush! I can't imagine leaving the house without brushing my teeth. A small blessing that I take for granted each day." - Michelle Mattys, Preschool Four 
  • "Hugs from family and my toddlers." - Maureen Sahr, Toddler Two
  • "My cell phone is something I can't go a day without. It is pretty much near me at all times, except in the classroom - lol! I've been late to places because I will go back home to get my cell phone. I also check for it in the middle of the night just to make sure it is where I put it when I went to bed." - Tiffany Robinson, Infant Two 
  • "Prayer" -Cathy Baier, Preschool Three 
  • "I can't go a day without singing.  And I apologize, because it's not like you will every see me on 'The Voice,' that's for sure!  But ever since I began working with children, it's like I've always got a song in my heart that needs to come out!  I sing songs on the radio, songs we sing at school, even songs I'm just making up in my head as I go.  Last spring I was in the Strip District, shopping at Wholley's, and Barry Manilow's, 'Mandy' came on the radio... I couldn't hold it in!  People stared at me, then my husband started singing along, then some other people.  It was like the Pittsburgh version of 'Glee' in that place!  Pretty funny, but I realized then that I think MOST people have a song in their hearts they just want to get out!  They just need some crazy person in a seafood store to start them out! - Shelley Martin, Infant Three 
Monthly Family Gathering:
Anderson Playground
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 that families meet at Anderson Playground (AKA Dinosaur Playground) on Panther Hollow Road on Sunday, June 28th at 1:00 pm (weather permitting). It is a castle themed playground and it is surrounded by beautiful landscaping. While there, you can also check out Panther Hollow Lake and take a walk through the woods. Don't forget your snacks and sunscreen!


News to Know
  • The progress on the construction in the building is moving along. The conference room is almost complete and they've started on the construction of the other space that will house a staff lounge, teacher resource room, and an office. We are excited!
  • UCDC is selling some fundraiser items! Please visit the "UCDC Originals" display in our lobby to purchase your unique UCDC merchandise.

  • UCDC Eats! Cookbook...the original UCDC cookbook, packed full of recipes from UCDC parents and staff.  Includes a section of UCDC favorites, too!  $15 each

  • UCDC Insulated Grocery Tote - thermal lined with zipper closure. Great for hot summer grocery shopping!  Available in green or blue.  $5 each

  • UCDC Monogrammed Beach Towel-thick, quality beach towel in navy blue with the UCDC monogram and custom designed children's artwork.  $20 each 

  • Contracts for the new fiscal year will be distributed soon. After you receive your new contract, please make sure to return it to the office as soon as possible.

  • Vision screening went quite well with our preschoolers and we are planning to offer the screenings to children between 2 and 3 years of age, sometime in July.  Look for information in your child's mailbox in early July if they meet the age requirement.

  • The plant sale was a huge success this year.  We were raised close to $1400.00 dollars which helped to cover the cost of the Staff Appreciation Dinner.  We are very thankful that parents took the time to order from us.  This is our largest annual fundraiser and we  greatly appreciate your support. My thanks to the parents who volunteered their time to unload the many plants and fill orders bright and early on delivery day.  I greatly appreciate your help!

  • You may have noticed that during the renovations, the children's library was relocated to the hallway on the lower level.  Please feel free to borrow books at any time.  Just let Carrie know at that front desk what you would like to borrow. When you are finished with the books, return them to the office and we will put them back on the shelf.

UCDC Philosophy Explained
By Jamie Wincovitch, Education Coordinator


Parent Question: I'm hearing a huge emphasis on the importance of play for young children, but I'm also hearing conflicting information on the importance of achievement and testing in the school years. How is play really preparing my child for school?


Answer: Play is of utmost importance for a young child. The act of playing comes natural for a child and engaging in active play teaches children valuable lessons to provide for future success. Engaging with their peers in a natural way allows them to practice their verbal and listening skills, see others perspectives, and learn how to successfully interact with others. Play allows for children to learn to cope with their feelings, try on different roles, and reenact things in their life in order to better understand them. Play is an active ingredient for creativity and physical development as well. The ability to be able to participate in free play for long periods of uninterrupted time allows a child to become self-confident, creative, social and overall healthy.


Alternatively, there is also a great deal of emphasis on test taking in the school years and it is understandable how families would feel torn between allowing their child to "just play" and pushing them to achieve in order to "be prepared" for Kindergarten. At UCDC, we strongly believe that the act of playing allows a child to gain the self-confidence and self-esteem that is required in order to be a good "learner" in a more formal educational setting.


We are preparing our children for a future unknown. We have no idea what the jobs will be when our young children are entering the workforce, but I can't imagine that they won't require tons of creativity, imagination, and outside-of-the-box thinking, especially the way that technology is changing our world. So fostering this idea that play will allow children to become natural problem solvers with a creative flare will hopefully give them the edge that they need to succeed in their futures.

Did You Know?


Did you know that the neighborhood stegosaurus and the "Lumpy Bumpy" tree are two very important objects in your child's life? These are in our neighborhood and when we take walks with the children, these two landmarks are pointed out and valued by all of the children. So the next time your child tells you that there is a dinosaur near UCDC or that a tree looks like "Lumpy Bumpy," don't dismiss their conversation because it's true!


Preschool Wisdoms - Preschool One


This month, we were curious to ask the preschoolers in Preschool One - What's your favorite thing to do?

"Play with cars with Mommy and Daddy"
  • Play with Mommy and Daddy.
  • Play with my new Octonauts and pretend Mama is a Martian.
  • Play on the Kindle, I like to play Super Why.
  • Play with Daddy.
  • Play with your Mom and Daddy.
  • I like to have lunch with Mommy, Daddy and Quinn after we have breakfast in my home.
  • To snuggle with Mommy and Daddy.
  • In the morning you get to wear beautiful dresses.
  • I like to play with my brother, Mommy and Daddy.
  • Snuggle with my Mommy, Daddy, Grandpa and baby.
  • I like to play with my Mommy, Daddy in the night time.
  • Snuggle with my Mommy, Daddy, and Sam before I go to school.
  • Go to on a steam train.
  • I like to eat dinner with Mommy, Daddy and brother.
  • I like to go Easter egg hunting.
  • I like to have picnics in my backyard with my family.
  • My favorite thing to do is reading.
  • My favorite thing to do is play hockey.
  • My favorite thing to do is to take a walk in the sunshine, eating ice cream.