August 2016
University Child 
Development Center

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

Director's Corner


As is usually the case, summer is going by quite quickly and we are experiencing many changes in our building.  We have welcomed many new families and a few new staff members.   We are extremely happy to have you here!  Please remember that you are welcome to visit any time, my door is always open and we communicate a lot via constant contact emails and information in your child's mailbox!  Please be sure to check both often, as there could be important information that we need from you.   

We have also been saying goodbye to many families and children who have been with us for a very long time. This can be extremely emotional and quite exciting at the same time.   One of the most important aspects of a high quality early childhood program is the relationships that are built between the teachers, children and families and it is those relationships that make it so difficult to say goodbye!  But we know that children are ready and eager to continue on their journey and that they will do well in whatever environment they are in when they leave.  

We are also in the midst of many classroom transitions, which seem to be going extremely well for most of our children and families.  Transition time can also be a difficult time for children and families so it's important that you ask your classroom teachers anything that you are unsure about.  We are more than happy to answer questions, share more information, and chat about your concerns.  

Any changes to a families schedule or routine can be challenging.  It takes time to understand what so many new things will mean for a family and it also takes time to understand how children will adjust to the new changes.  Patience and flexibility are key during transition times.  Planning ahead and knowing things still might not go as planned is good to remember as well.   Try to keep children's schedules as consistent as possible.  Starting what will be the "school year" schedule before the first day of school will help children get adjusted a little quicker.

Enjoy the remaining days of summer- have some fun, make new memories and treasure every moment.  Time truly does go quick.  Babies become toddlers, toddlers become preschoolers and before you know it- you're saying good bye at the door of a new school!  Exciting and frightening.

Mary Beth 
Curriculum in the Classroom
Preschool Two
"Now it was time to create ice explosions!"

Expect the Unexpected: Ice Exploration

At UCDC, teachers plan a variety of activities for the children to partake in daily. Once the play begins though, the children take control. 

Take for instance a recent experience in Preschool Two. Expanding on an interest in creating sand castles, children were invited to explore ice castles with watercolors and salt. As they worked, they used vibrant language to describe the experience. Some children enjoyed the castle theme and stuck with it throughout the activity. One child described, "Mine is looking like an ice castle. The Queen of England could live there!" Other children noticed as the ice melted, their castle began taking on different forms. One child thought that his resembled an octopus. He shared excitedly, "These pointy things are the tentacles! I'm making it have tentacles!" 

One child thoughtfully explained, "If the paint is in the salt, the salt goes down deep into the ice."
Yet still other children focused less on what their ice looked like, and more on the changes that were occurring. One child thoughtfully explained, "If the paint is in the salt, the salt goes down deep into the ice." Another child chose to focus on creating a deep hole in his ice structure. He announced, "It's going deep down like my digestive system!" As it got even deeper, he noted that it looked like a volcano, and suggested we could make it explode. What a great idea! Each child was given a cup of vinegar and baking soda. Now it was time to create ice explosions! As they worked with their new ingredients, one child shared, "It's a chemical reaction!" Another child proposed, "Vinegar can make bubbles mix with water because vinegar is just like soap." 

The bottom line: Planned activities are good; children's ideas are better. 
Spotlight on Staff

For some of us, watching TV is a time to unwind and relax. And then there are days where you're so exhausted that you just can't stop! Read on to hear about what shows our teachers like to binge watch.
  • Orange is the New Black, House of Cards, any of the Real Housewives (guilty pleasure), Archer, Bob's Burgers... ... uh, I watch a lot of TV. - Emily Marsh, Preschool Two
  • I binge watch 30 Rock regularly; it's my favorite tv show. - Jenna Holsing, Preschool Two
  • My binge watching has included Unbreakable Kimmie Schmidt, Gilmore Girls, Friday Night LIghts, and Parenthood. - Cathy Baier, Preschool Three
  • Parks and Recreation, Arrested Development - Julie Brennan, Preschool Three
  • My youngest daughter and I will watch the Food Network for hours while we are in the kitchen doing other things. One of our favorite's on that channel is Cupcake Wars. The show has inspired Paige and her friends to have their own cupcake wars at home. - Michelle Mattys, Preschool Four
  • I admit it, I watch every CSI made:  Miami, Los Angeles, New York, etc. - Maureen Sahr, Toddler Two
  • I can't really watch a ton shows in a row of anything but I will sit down to watch a few episodes in a row of The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt or Marvel's Jessica Jones. Very different shows, I know! - Shelley Martin, Infant Three

UCDC Art Gallery
Toddler Four Stamp Art


Preschool Four String Art
Infant Three Feet Painting
Preschool One Nature Painting


New Car Seat Law in PA


A new Pennsylvania Law which requires a child younger than two years of age to be secured in a rear-facing car seat takes effect August 12, 2016. A rear-facing car seat is to be used until the child outgrows the maximum weight and height limits designated by the car seat manufacturer.

Click here for more information and to find out more car safety tips. There's also information about how you can get a free car seat check with a certified CPS technician who can help you properly install your child's car seat.


News to Know
  •  Congratulations to Jennifer Sneddon (one of our valued office employees) and her husband, Steve, and son, Andy, on the birth of their new baby girl, Parker Julia. We are so happy for their whole family!
  • UCDC will be closed on Friday, August 12th for a Professional Development Day for our teachers and staff. Enjoy the long weekend with your family.
UCDC Philosophy Explained
By Jamie Wincovitch, Ed. Coordinator
"...if you look closely, they may still be playing independently within the larger group..."
Question: How do the toddler and preschool teachers have so many kids do the same thing at the same time? 

Answer: Toddlers and preschoolers are entering a stage of development in which they are becoming more and more social and show a stronger interest in playing with others. Play moves from parallel play (Wikipedia defines this as "a form of play in which children play adjacent to each other, but do not try to influence one another's behavior. Children usually play alone during parallel play but are interested in what other children are doing.") to cooperative play ("when a child is interested both in the people playing and in the activity they are doing. In cooperative play, the activity is organized, and participants have assigned roles."). Therefore, the teachers aren't making the children work in small groups, but they are more interested and developmentally ready to play together more successfully. 

You may observe a toddler classroom and notice a teacher at the table engaging a group of five children in an activity. As per our philosophy, children are not forced to rotate through activities, rather they are allowed to choose where they want to play every part of each day. It is a toddler's nature to want to be a part of that group and typically when an activity is offered, they will willingly join. Although, if you look closely, they may still be playing independently within the larger group of children only showing glimpses of working cooperatively with their peers.

On the contrary, if you would observe a preschool classroom, you would notice lots of smaller groups within the larger group where children are self selecting play with each other. Some children may be building a "boat" in the block area while others are playing "baby" in the dramatic play area. Typically these play themes are chosen by the children and the roles and activities are decided by the peer group. Sometimes these children need help negotiating roles, but cooperating becomes much easier as a preschooler.

The teacher's role at UCDC is to be a facilitator of play as opposed to a director of play. Therefore, our teachers work with the developmental stages of the children and offer activities that are interests or developmental needs of the group and then magically, play happens!

Did You Know?

Did you notice our garden lately? We've already harvested a ton of vegetables and herbs and have been using them in the classrooms. Infants through preschoolers have shared the responsibility of planting, watering and harvesting our crops. This experience is  giving the young children a great understanding of food origins.

Preschool Wisdoms
"A kitten because they have good night vision." - Krishna

This month, we asked our preschoolers of Preschool Two the following question:

If you could be any animal, what animal would you be and why?

Stella-A wolf because it's really furry.
Vikram- A cheetah because they run fast and munch gazelles.
Raelyn- A dolphin because they swim beautifully.
Fianna- Rainbow Fish because they swim a lot.
Lily- A butterfly because they fly.
Kelly- A rainbow sparkly unicorn because it's beautiful.
Annika- A kitten because they're really soft.
Krishna- A kitten because they have good night vision.
Leo- A lion because it is my favorite cat and it is Big Liza and Little Liza's favorite animal.
Remy- A bunny rabbit because they jump up.
Cormac- A dog because dogs are savers.
London- Rainbow fish because they swim.
Lena- Fish because they swim really fast.
Finn- A tiger because it's strong and it's my favorite animal.
Mila- Frogs because I like when they hop.
Nicolena- A dog because they can do lots of tricks.
Violet- A cat because it jumps really high and it purrs.
Zoe- A fox because they have sharp claws.
Francesco- An elephant because it's the biggest animal.