January 2016
University Child 
Development Center

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

Director's Corner


The start of a new year is upon us. I hope that you each had a wonderful and relaxing break filled with special times with your children, friends and family. These are some of the most important things in life and taking the time enjoy them and to create special memories for your children is so important. 

Children are certainly creatures of habit and appreciate and thrive with routine, but allowing for new and different experiences also provides the needed opportunities to learn and grow and to learn coping mechanisms for when things might not go as expected. 

Two points to remember about routines:
  • Be consistent- children are the most content when the same thing happens at pretty much the same time every day.
  • Explain deviations from the routine- if you have to change your plans, let your child know ahead of time, if possible, and explain the situation and the change you are making.

Some things to think about regarding coping skills:

  • Make sure basic needs are being met. Are children drinking enough water, eating healthy, getting enough sleep and getting enough physical activity?  It's easier to accept some change when a child's body is nurtured in a healthy way.
  • Use sensory items at home to relax children- playing with playdough, small bins of water, painting with water colors, and/or using stress balls.  These help to create a calm atmosphere.
  • Teach children deep breathing exercises or a few yoga poses.
  • Utilize good strategies yourself. Children hear and see everything that you do, so if you are not calm and patient in situations that require good coping skills, children will pick up on that and begin to exhibit similar reactions.  I know it takes a lot to be patient in the line at the grocery store or when traffic is bad, but the appropriate response (or lack of a response) can go a long way.
  • Minimize big changes at home when possible.  Getting a new pet, moving a child to a big kids bed and having relatives visit at the same time is a recipe for disaster.  Try to space out the big events in a child's life so that they have an opportunity to adjust to one, before another big change happens.  Remember that change is difficult for everyone and it takes time to adjust.
  • Finally, help your child to begin to understand actions and consequences by explaining to them what the consequence will be of an action that they choose.  Help them to understand that certain things happen when certain choices are made.  Be brief in your explanation so that they can begin to understand how they have an impact on a situation.  Too much of an explanation can be overwhelming and the main point will be lost on them.
Applying these principals throughout your day will help to ensure that children have the best opportunity to be successful when changes happen. It will also help them to understand how they impact the day and events that take place, using the coping skills that you are helping them to learn.

Best wishes for a calm and peaceful new year,
Mary Beth

Curriculum in the Classroom
Preschool Three
"On a walk one morning, we discovered two scarecrows along our route..."
 During the fall, Preschool 3 read many books about autumn. We observed scarecrows in some of these books, including Otis and the Scarecrow, by Loren Long.

On a walk one morning, we discovered two scarecrows along our route. Excited to see the scarecrows, just like the ones in our books, we decided to take a closer look and stopped to examine them. We photographed them and even took a classroom photo with the scarecrows! With much enthusiasm, we began discussing what we observed on our walk back to UCDC and decided we would create our own scarecrows. 

Back in the classroom, we started brainstorming ideas. We made a list of what parts and materials we would need. One child even cut out shapes to map out the design for her 
scarecrow.  A few children helped choose materials from the 
art room. When we gathered everything we needed, the children sat together at the table and began to work. Some children drew their scarecrows then used glue and tape to add on arms, legs, and clothing. Others made more abstract scarecrows, using many colors of markers. 
"...we began discussing what we observed on our walk back to UCDC and decided we would create our own scarecrows."

In the process of creating the scarecrows, the children got to explore art using various materials, discussed their creation process, and solved structural problems through trial and error. When they finished, we had a variety of unique scarecrows for our scarecrow garden! The children helped display the scarecrows, chose were they wanted to place them and collaborated on a sign that read "Preschool 3 Scarecrows." 

Spotlight on Staff

The holidays are over and we're all back into full swing. We're curious to know how our staff spent their Winter Break away from UCDC.

  • Family - making memories and giving each other the gift of time! Kathy Slater, Toddler Three
  • We spent most the winter break traveling!  We went to visit my family in Bethlehem, PA for four days, came home for two days, and then visited my in-laws in Nappanee, IN for four days.  Although it was not very relaxing, it is very special that we can spend time with both of our families over the holidays. - Katie Anglin, Infant Four
  • Enjoyed special time with my children, grandchildren, husband and extended family; watched proudly as my grandson was baptized. - Marlene Schenck, Office
  • I spent winter recess resting and enjoying my family.  My extended family gathered on Christmas day for dinner and a fun gift exchange where each person gets to take a gift that has been chosen or get a new one from the middle of the gift pile.  It is always good for some laughs!   I went to a cabin in Jamestown on Pymatuning lake for a few days with my husband.  Some of my good friends gathered for dinner and conversation to end the break comfortably. - Maureen Sahr, Toddler Two
  • I spent my holiday break celebrating Christmas and the New Year with my family, watching my son play hockey in a local tournament, celebrating my sister's 40th birthday with cookies made by Lindsay, watching IV, V and VI of the Star Wars series, organizing my pantry and eating too many home baked goodies!!! - Michelle Mattys, Preschool Four
  • We spent time with family in Pittsburgh, traveled to see more family in Harrisburg, and rang in the new year with lots of old and new friends at a hotel. It was a busy, but fun break (but we're all so tired, we need another one!). - Jamie Wincovitch, Education Coordinator
  • I spent it with family, I ate a LOT of good food, at my age, that's what I look forward to most.  Any spare time I had was spent in my pajamas watching mindless TV, napping, and coloring in my adult coloring book that I got for Christmas. - Emily Marsh, Infant Two

In and Around Pittsburgh:
The National Aviary
parrots_couple_love.jpg Have you ever been to the National Aviary with your children? This is a great place to take your family to observe over 500 birds that are representative of 150 species. The Aviary has large walk-through exhibits that allow for very close interactions with birds. There are many different programs to entertain for all ages of children. 

The Aviary is open every day from 10-5 except for three days of the year so click here to learn more and start planning your visit with your family!

News to Know
  • Please remember that UCDC closes at 6:00 pm and we would greatly appreciate it if families planned their pick-up times to coincide with the staff being able to be out of the building by that time.  Not only does this allow for the staff to catch buses, attend class, make it to other jobs, and most importantly go home to their own families, it also allows for parents to have the appropriate amount of time to talk to the teachers about their child's day and reunite with them in a positive manner.  It also gives the staff time to finish the end of the day routines like sanitizing the classroom and preparing for the next day. 
    We greatly appreciate your respectful attention to this request. 
  • Work on the playground has concluded and the new bollards are in place in the parking lot. IT IS EXTREMELY IMPORTANT THAT YOU USE THE SIDEWALK WITH YOUR CHILDREN AND PLEASE HOLD HANDS AT ALL TIMES.  Children should not run ahead of parents at any time in the building or in the parking lot/on sidewalk.  SAFETY MATTERS!
  • UCDC will be closed on Monday, January 18th in observance of Dr. Martin Luther King's birthday
  • Speech and hearing screening permission slips for preschoolers should be turned in at your earliest convenience.  Screenings are scheduled for the end of January and early February.
  • Vision Screening permission slips have been distributed and should be completed if you are interested in a screening for your toddler or preschooler.  Screenings will take place the week of January 25th. 
  • The Duksung Practicum begins on January 19th.  There are eight students total from Duksung Women's University and two of them will be placed here at UCDC in the older preschool classrooms (Jang Young Eun and Lee Hee Jeong). The eight students will visit UCDC on Saturday January 16th for orientation and lunch, before visiting PITT's campus and the new Korean Nationality Room. The remainder of their almost two week stay is packed with a variety of cultural and educational experiences as well as time with their host families. 
  • Experimental Psychology students will observe 3 and 4 year old preschool classrooms on February 25th and 26th.
  • The students from the dental school will visit preschool classrooms to teach them about oral hygiene in a play-based manner in February. 
  • This semester, Barbara Myers will hold her Intro to Early Childhood Class here at UCDC on Tuesday afternoons in our new Conference Room next to Preschool Four.

UCDC Philosophy Explained:
Science through the ages
By Jamie Wincovitch
How do infants, toddlers and preschoolers learn science at UCDC?
Preschoolers watch the watercolors follow the path of the salt/glue during a salt painting activity while learning about the properties of salt through play.

According to Dictionary.com, science is defined as "systematic knowledge of the physical or material world gained through observation and experimentation." Children are EXCELLENT at both observation and experimentation so teaching young children science is easy since they are naturally curious and amazing observers! 

Therefore, at UCDC, we take this natural curiosity and run with it through hands on experimentation starting in infants and concluding in the oldest preschool classroom. We believe that science is everywhere and we take every opportunity as one to observe and experiment with. Something as simple as a walk around the neighborhood can spark a month long theme about worms if you take the lead of the children, which is one of our philosophical markers here at UCDC.

Infants make "bubble dough" out of cornstarch and dish soap in their sensory table.  
We also provide more intentional lessons in science in every classroom here at UCDC. Some experiments that you might see include baking, making "goop" (cornstarch and water), creating explosions with baking soda and vinegar, painting with salt and/or making fireworks in milk. All of these experiments provide children with the opportunity to observe, gain new vocabulary, experiment and learn about the physical or material world around them.

Did You Know?

Did you know that Parent/Teacher Conferences are offered at any time throughout the year if you would want to request one? Also we offer Parent/Teacher Conferences for all children during the month of your child's birthday and half birthday.

Preschool Wisdoms


What tunes do our children love? This month we decided to ask the children in Preschool Three their favorite song. Read on to hear what beats they love best!


  • Take Me Out to the Ballgame - Anna
  • Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed and The Wheels on the Bus - Ryan L.
  • Willaby Wallaby - Owen
  • Bumblebee - Ryan X.
  • Frozen - Lily
  • Let It Go - Annika
  • Uptown Funk You Up - Cole
  • Annie - Lena
  • Star Wars - Jasper
  • Let It Go - Sophie
  • Victor Vido and Freddie Vasco - Whitman
  • The first song on the Peanuts CD. No words, just instruments - Makena
  • The train song - Nolan
  • Frozen - Mila
  • The duck song - Vivian
  • The airplane song - Victor
  • Apples and Bananas - Frederick
  • ABC and Wheels on the Bus - Satya
  • Wide Awake by Katy Perry - Henry