September 2016
University Child 
Development Center

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

Director's Corner
This past February, the early childhood community lost a significant individual in the field.  Bev Bos is a name that many early childhood professionals will recognize.  They've read her books and if they were really lucky, they got to see her in action at a conference.  She had a quick wit and wonderful sense of humor.  The greatest thing about Bev was her absolute genuine and passionate desire to do what was best for young children and the level of respect that she always focused on.  She understood children and what they needed better than anyone else that I know.    She was able to translate that into something that educators could understand and aspire to.   She talked at great length about the value of play and why the process was always more important than the product.  She spoke often of how all learning involves risk and how experience is not the best teacher; it's the only teacher.  Wonder, curiosity, self-discovery, problem-solving, interactions and exploration are all words that I associate with her. 

One of the things that resonates the most with me is her description of how "Earliest isn't best and fastest isn't best." She states, "If what we want for our children is a lifetime of excellence- in experience, in ability, in knowledge- we must be responsible enough to wait and thorough enough to look at all sides of their development.  We need to pay attention to how we can help foster children's engagement in learning so that they become lifelong learners.  Children's brains have not changed; only the expectations about what children should be doing. These unrealistic expectations that ignore well-known and researched child development principles are having a deleterious impact on children's social competence and their ability to become successful learners in academic settings.  A holistic approach to the education of young children must be adopted and practiced, not just in preschool but to third grade (at least)."

In this fast paced, competitive world, it's good to be reminded that children are children and while they are quite capable and able to do a lot and learn a lot, it isn't a race to the finish but a journey to enjoy.

Mary Beth
Curriculum in the Classroom
Toddler Three
"'Feel the corn. It's so cold and bumpy,' a 3-year-old said to a 2-year-old."

The summer season is winding down, and the weather isn't the only thing around here that is changing - our classrooms are changing, too! As children move on to meet new friends and challenges, teachers will be tailoring activities, materials, and experiences to ensure that each child, from the newest face to the biggest fish, is engaged and thriving in a flexible, responsive environment.
Here at UCDC, teachers allow children's interests and abilities to guide planning and activities, supporting them as they engage in different ways. In Toddler 3, we have recently been exploring produce. What started as a teacher's trip to the grocery store turned into an impromptu study of nutrition, color and sensory experiences as children excitedly investigated, compared and described. "Feel the corn. It's so cold and bumpy," a 3 year old said to a 2 year old. "It is cold," she replied. "Was it in the water table?" A 1 year old sniffed lemons, squishing his nose and making a face as another told him, "It's ok. Smells like oranges."  Older toddlers used words to express their discoveries and curiosity, while younger friends gravitated toward, well, gravity - dropping and rolling wobbly avocados across the floor. Eventually, some children grew tired of the activity, but a few produce explorers expressed their desire to keep on going. To extend the learning, teachers offered paper, paints, and stamp pads to make prints, inspiring a few friends to reinvest in the activity. This child-centered, play-based approach allows children to guide curriculum, ensuring that they are engaged, challenged and supported throughout their entire UCDC journey. 

Welcome Cindy Peck to Infant Four

We're always excited to welcome a new face to the UCDC team. Read on to learn more about our newest teacher, Cindy. We are so happy to have her with us at UCDC!

"My name is Cindy Peck and I am the newest member of the UCDC team in the Infant Four classroom. I graduated from the University of Pittsburgh and have been working with children ever since. I have been married for 15 years to my husband, Frank, and we have four wonderful children ranging in age from 13 years to 9 months old. I love the beach, camping or any activity that includes being with my family. I am very happy to be back in Pittsburgh after spending several years in Florida. I am glad to have this opportunity to join UCDC and can't wait to meet and get to know everyone. To the staff, parents and families I have already met, I would like to say thank you for making me feel so welcomed and I look forward to the future here."

Spotlight on Staff

It's funny to think of the teachers and staff here at UCDC as children, but we all played once! Take a look to see what sports the teachers and staff used to play when they were younger.
  • I played intramural volleyball in high school. - Cathy Baier, Preschool Three
  •  I played basketball, softball, field hockey, karate and was also on the track team. I was in the ping pong club too, if that counts - lol! - Jamie Wincovitch, Education Coordinator
  •  Basketball, dance, tag - Emily Marsh, Preschool Two
  • I played softball as a kid. - Cindy Peck, Infant Four
  • I played baseball in the front yard with my brother, my three sisters and the neighbors. - Cheryl Petro, Preschool One
  • I did not play sports as a child or an adult.  I did join the majorettes and marched in a few parades in elementary school.  I was also a cheerleader for the boys' basketball team in sixth, seventh and eighth grade.   - Maureen Sahr, Toddler Two
  • I used to love playing softball in the Connellsville mini-girls softball league!  I wasn't all that great but I loved being part of a team and making new friends.  I was extremely shy as a young child and it really helped bring me out of my shell, having something that threw me together with new friends, a few who became life-long pals! - Shelley Martin, Infant Three

UCDC Art Gallery
Painting by Preschool Three


By Riley, Preschool One
Straw creations by Molly, Preschool Four
By Ania, Toddler Three


Development Day
This past Professional Development Day was packed with activities surrounding teamwork and collaboration. The teachers began the day with a classroom team meeting focused on child transitions, curricular planning and a variety of other topics based on classroom need. The teachers then met together as a large group while Ammie Ribarchak, the Head Teacher in Preschool One, presented about co-teaching and a variety of ways to do this successfully. Each team was dismissed to participate in a Marshmallow Challenge. This was a timed teamwork activity that challenged the team members to build the tallest tower from spaghetti, string and tape with a marshmallow on top. During this work, teams concentrated hard and there was a lot discovered from this high pressure challenge. In the end, we learned a lot about each other and how successful teams work as well-oiled machines working together, accepting differences and allowing for variances based on individual strengths.
A playful lunch and a visit from the Kona Ice Truck was followed by a whole staff meeting with Mary Beth focusing on a SWOT analysis of each classroom.  Teams were asked to identify strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats and focus on how to utilize their strengths to address the areas of weakness and opportunities. The larger group then completed a required training on emergency preparedness where they were literally showered with candy, thanks to Marlene. The day ended with time to work in classrooms on environment, housekeeping tasks and preparation for a new group of children as we experience every fall.
Every Professional Development Day is different but the day always ends with a feeling of accomplishment and a strong gratitude for the energetic, amazing and creative group of people here at UCDC!

For Your Information

  • As the summer term ended and fall began, we said goodbye to a lot of student assistants and welcomed a new crew. So you'll see a lot of new faces around UCDC - make sure you introduce yourself!
  • This semester we will also share our building with Barbara Myers and her Early Childhood class on Thursday evenings. Barbara is a long time colleague and friend of ours at UCDC and it is an honor to have her host her class here at UCDC. It also gives the students a ton of valuable experience as then are able to observe during the times that we are open and explore classrooms into the evening when the children have gone home. What a great experience!



Preschool Wisdoms
"Blocks. Because you build things with them." - Lexy
This month we were curious to hear what the preschoolers in Preschool Three liked to play with. Read on to learn favorites of this age group.

  • "Trains because I play with train tracks." - Kirala
  • "Fire truck. The truck is big." - Ander
  • "A mixer truck 'cause Santa brought it to my house." - Jayden
  • "Little cars 'cause I like to play with them." - Cole
  • "Water toys" - Victor and Vivian
  • "A school bus. I play with it all the time. I just got it from Target." - Shay
  • "My house. My castle and my house. 'Cause I really like it." - Leo
  • "My shark. 'Cause of its tag." - Owen
  • "The transformer! Because I like it! It's a robot but it turns into a truck." - Jasper
  • "Both animals - Foxy and pillow pet. 'Cause I like 'em." - Aaron
  • "Puzzles. Because I love it. I just want to play with them so my home has puzzles." - Austin
  • "My favorite toy's my little Equestria minis because they're minis! They're little, teeny tiny." - MaKena
  • "Blocks. Because you build things with them." - Lexy

The University Child Development Center | 635 Clyde Street | Pittsburgh | PA | 15260