ECDC-ND School Year 4’s Group

Welcome to the ECDC-ND 4’s!  Our classroom community includes 24 children and 2 teachers with a 3rd teacher most of the time.  ECDC-ND employs a few ND and SMC college students on a part time basis (4 to 10 hours per week) to assist teachers during the early morning, lunch and rest times, and end of the day adding additional helping hands.  These students are an important part of our program and we are most grateful for their time and energy.


Our Curriculum - In-Depth Studies Throughout the School Year

“Getting to Know You”

At the beginning of each school year, the children and teachers are excited to come together as a new 4’s community.  During the first few weeks, the children get to know one another, learn about what happens in the 4’s, and explore the materials in the room.  The children share their interests with one another, learn about their similarities and differences, and strengthen established friendships while building new friendships through songs, stories, games, and play.

“Throwing, Catching, Kicking – Learning about ND Sports”

In this study, the children explore the wonderful world of sports and how throwing, kicking, swinging, and gliding come together in coordinated, organized games.  They learn about many different sports through visits with a wide variety of college athletes (e.g., soccer, tennis, lacrosse, baseball, softball, hockey) and field trips to a couple of campus sports venues (ice rink, softball field).  These experiences allow the children to explore and try out the equipment and to interact, play, and learn with college student athletes.  As the children prepare to interview these athletes, they develop an understanding of the types of questions to ask to gain knowledge about the individual sport.  With the information they collect, the children compare the various sports and consider similarities and differences in the equipment used, the basic rules of the sport, whether the sport is an individual or team sport, and how the athletes prepare and practice. The children adore using the equipment and playing the sport/game with the collegiate athletes. 

“Food for Thought: My Healthy Plate”

Children use all of their senses in this study as they discover, explore, and learn about healthy eating and healthy bodies.  The children are able to see, smell, touch, taste, and, hear (e.g., crunching) as they explore the 5 food groups – vegetables, fruits, dairy, protein, and breads and grains and learn how to create a healthy plate (with occasional “sometimes” foods).  The children sample new foods and create charts, graphs and books about their favorites, set up a grocery store in dramatic play, and follow simple recipes to make their own snack incorporating literacy, math, science, and social studies throughout their activities, play and learning. 

“Authors and Illustrators”

The joy of books, stories, characters, and words comes alive during a semester long study of 16 beloved Authors and Illustrators, including Brett, Numeroff, Munsch, Early Macken, Bridwell, Lionni, Seuss, and Margret and H. A. Rey.  The children explore each author’s individual style across their many books, including subject, illustrations, and individuality.  Joy, creativity, and excitement soar!  Books come to life in the classroom with hands-on creative art, drama, play, and writing engagements.  The children become confident Authors and Illustrators creating fiction and nonfiction books, wordless books, books filled with their written ideas, circle stories, silly stories, books for the classroom and books to take home for family enjoyment.

Summer 4/5's Group - Musicmakers

In the summer, we become a 4/5’s group and our summer nickname is the Musicmakers. Throughout the summer we will have a group of 24 children with 2 teachers all of the time and 3 teachers most of the time.

Summer Study – “Songs and Rhythms from Near and Far”
During the summer this group becomes the 4/5’s Musicmakers group. Some of the children in the 4’s have turned or are turning 5, thus the name change to 4/5’s Musicmakers. The children in this group explore and enjoy music as a delightful expressive and receptive art form throughout the summer.   The children listen to music, gathering and interpreting the many messages offered, including feelings, moods, and pictures.  The children adore making their own music.  Children listen to a variety of musical styles (e.g., jazz, blues, classical, Brazilian, western), create many different instruments to enjoy at ECDC and take home to play, and experiment and play with rhythm and rhyme.  We invite parents and family members to share their musical interests and abilities with the class, dusting off old dancing shoes and breaking out an instrument to share “the sound of music” in the Musicmakers’ room.

Summer Special Activities –
This summer the children will have many fun activities to experience. During ECDC-ND summer camp, we will be very busy in our classroom, on the playground, and in our meadow enjoying gymnastics, creative dramatics, picnic snacks, storytellers, music, gardening and so much more! It is going to be a great summer! Special activities are evenly divided, as best they can be, across the various part time enrollment schedules. Children enrolled full time participate in all of the special activities. Children enrolled with part time schedules participate in a selection of special activities (e.g., TTH mornings or afternoons have approx. 1/5th of the special activities, MWF mornings or afternoons have approx. 3/10ths of the special activities, MWF all day schedules have approx. 3/5ths of the activities and TTH all day schedules have approx. 2/5ths of the activities). When unexpected changes occur, you will receive notification via email. Whenever possible a cancelled special activity will be rescheduled.

Electronic Calendars of Special Activities/Events –
ECDC families will be able to access their child’s calendar of special events/field trips via the “Classroom Resources” section of their classroom’s page on the ECDC website.  Activities for upcoming weeks are added to calendars as quickly as possible. When special activities have been finalized and calendars are updated, we let families know in the daily communication.

College Student Involvement

During both the School Year and Summer programs, we welcome practicum college students into our class from seven area colleges and universities (Notre Dame, Saint Mary’s, IUSB, Bethel, IVY Tech, Holy Cross and Southwestern Michigan) who are completing course-required observations. We also welcome Notre Dame student volunteers who spend 2 hours per week with our group. Practicum and volunteer college students always work with the teachers in the classroom. We value their involvement as they offer extra smiles, laps, conversations and support for our children.

The Rhythm of the Day

Items to bring to ECDC for your child

It is helpful to bring the following items on your child’s first day~

  • One photograph of your child for the front of her/his locker.  If possible, have your child help you select the picture to bring to school for his/her locker.
    • 1 package of 8 color, washable markers
    • 1 box of crayons (no larger than 24-count)
    • 1 bottle of washable school glue (preferably Elmers)
  • Several complete sets of extra clothing to keep on the top shelf of your child’s locker. These clothes will be used by your child should he/she get bodily secretions on clothing or spill milk or water on clothing.  Children feel more comfortable putting on their own clothing if they do need to remove wet clothes. Please mark your child’s name on the extra clothing and store in a plastic bag on the top shelf of his/her locker.  Please keep your child’s extra clothing seasonal and check them often to make sure a complete set of clothes is always available.  Thank you.
  • RESTING ITEMS for children attending in the afternoons:  1 small crib size blanket (30″x40″) and small crib size pillow (12″x16″). Children enrolled in the mornings only do not need to bring resting items. Please note:  bed size pillows, bed size blankets and large or small sleeping bags may not be used at ECDC for rest times due to limited storage space and cleanliness and safety issues. Please provide crib size pillows and crib size blankets.
  • Family Photo: 4″x6″ family photo that ECDC will laminate for easy cleaning
  • Lovie:  A lovie might be a blanket, a small, stuffed animal or something else a child is attached to. These lovies help children to feel comfortable during the time they spend apart from their families and can be a healthy and typical part of growing up. We encourage children to bring their lovies to school. We will keep lovies in the children’s lockers because children often forget about them until they need them.
  • Face Masks: We are encouraging all children to wear masks or face shields. This may become a requirement in the future. Please provide 3 clean masks (or you can provide a face shield) labeled with your child’s first and last name each day.
  • Water Bottle: Please provide a reusable, filled water bottle that has a flip down straw labeled with your child’s name. Parents are responsible for daily cleaning of the water bottle and sending it filled to ECDC daily with their child.
    Learning Experiences and Goals

    In addition to establishing a classroom that is safe, inviting, developmentally stimulating, full of friendships and fun, the teachers have general overarching goals for the children. While teachers will work with families individually to establish more specific individual child goals, many of our general goals are listed below:

      • Relationships with Others – developing positive friendships with peers and teachers and developing the tools to problem-solve with others


      • Respect – A sense of respect for themselves, others, and materials


      • Responsible for our choices/actions and daily care of our environment


      • Responsive to their own bodily needs and the needs of others


      • Resourceful in play while learning to be problem solvers and how to use problem-solving skills effectively with people and materials.


      • Play Development – Transitioning from solitary and parallel play to cooperative play


      • Self Help Skills – including hand washing, blowing noses, dressing and undressing for toileting and to go outside, putting materials away, and managing their art box and lockers.


      • Attending Skills – including following directions, listening to stories, persistence with individual and small group activities, participation in conversations with peers and teachers


      • Expressive and Receptive Language Skills – including growing vocabulary, increased conversational turn taking, participation in large and small group discussions, more frequent use of words during challenging situations, etc.


      • Literature – including appreciation of books, print awareness, book orientation, re-telling of stories using props, increased understanding of characters, setting, story events and story sequence


      • Literacy Development – including letter recognition, phonemic awareness of consonants, beginning writing – moving from scribbling to representational marks to writing individual letters to beginning to write own name legibly


      • Mathematical Learning  – including spatial relationships – over/under, in/out, in front of/behind, matching, sorting and classification, sequencing (3 step), counting with 1:1 correspondence, recognizing and copying patterns, numeral recognition, etc.


      • Science Learning – including an inquisitiveness about the world around them, cause and effect, making predictions, caring for living things (fish, plants, garden)


      • The Fine Arts – awareness, appreciation and engagement with the fine arts, including music, art, movement, drama, and creative expression  


      • Gross Motor Skills – including increased awareness of self in space, eye-hand coordination  (ball catching and throwing), climbing, pedaling, strength, balance, and control


      • Fine Motor Skills  – including writing and drawing with varied materials and implements and manipulatives (e.g., lacing, stringing, cutting, tracing)


      • Knowledge About Themselves and Their World (cognitive conceptual development) – family, pets, animals, construction, artists and their art, songs and music, gardening, plants and insects.


      • Develop a sense of belonging to our community – sharing ideas and listening to what others have to say, developing friendships, and robust participation in the daily life of the classroom experiences.


    • Attributes, Dispositions and Approaches to Learning – self-confidence, friendly, cooperative, curious, creative, initiative – eager participation in new or novel experiences, persistence, flexibility, generous, empathetic, lending a helping hand, taking turns, and a love of learning.
    Celebrating Birthdays at ECDC / Special Treats for the Children

    Birthdays are a special time in a child’s life and we know how much they look forward to celebrating this time with their friends. The children and teachers at ECDC enjoy being part of this celebration. The teachers and program staff will plan and provide a special healthy snack for each child’s birthday. If you have any questions please speak with one of the lead teachers or a Program Director. Thank you!

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