ECDC-ND SY Kindergarten Group

During the school year the ECDC-ND Kindergarten is a group of 24 – 26 children with two teachers. 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
Project Approach Curriculum
The Project Approach Curriculum functions at the heart of the kindergarten program. The Project Approach is a method of teaching in which an in-depth investigation of a topic is conducted by the children and teachers. The study integrates learning across the subject areas, including, reading, writing, math, social studies, science, art, creative dramatics and movement.  The Kindergarten conducts several in-depth studies throughout the school year.

“Quilt Study”
As we come together as a new community, we begin our kindergarten journey with a study of quilts as objects of family history and tradition. Children share their family quilts, examine the patterns contained within these beautiful objects, identify shapes and colors, read quality children’s books about quilts and quilt making and create several kinds of quilts, including, a name quilt, painting design quilt, family photograph quilt and an intricate fabric quilt depicting key kindergarten experiences.

“Farms and Multicultural Markets Study”
The kindergartners examine how food is grown and harvested on a farm and prepared and sold at market. They explore multicultural markets in our city as we investigate different kinds of ethnic food traditions. We launch our study with a field trip to a local family farm. We conclude our project by constructing our very own kindergarten market at ECDC. During our kindergarten market, children experience the roles and responsibilities involved in the operation of a store.

“Fairy Tales Study”
Through our exploration of multicultural fairy tales, the children examine how a story is organized with a beginning, middle and an end, the development of story elements such as plot and character, and the meaning of the tale we construct as readers.  We study many versions of the Cinderella story.  The kindergartners create skits about our favorite versions of the tale that include sets, costumes and dramatic play.

“ECDC: Our School Study”
Our study includes an examination of our school building, the people who work at ECDC and the children of ECDC.  The kindergarten children learn about architecture and construction as we explore the parts of the building, the use of shapes and signs in the design, and how the building is used by the adults and children of ECDC.  They visit the activity rooms of the younger children at ECDC to determine how children grow and develop at school and interview teachers and administrators about their work. The kindergartners participate in community service activities for the children and teachers of the ECDC rooms that include toy making, storytelling and helping with classroom chores.

“The University of Notre Dame as Our Neighborhood Study”
We explore how the University functions as a community by visiting centers of campus life, such as the Hesburgh Library, the Golden Dome, a student dormitory and classroom. The children interact with college staff members, professors and students as they investigate the culture of ECDC’s neighborhood. The kindergarten engages in the construction of an elaborate model of the Notre Dame campus. This culminating activity is enhanced by the children’s visit to the School of Architecture, where they study how to design and construct buildings.

Experience Based Learning – Field Trips
Field trips, an integral part of the kindergarten curriculum, provide children with the opportunity to explore their environment, its people and materials. ECDC believes that through these hands-on experiences, children construct knowledge and develop academic skills. After returning to their kindergarten classroom from the field trip site, the children reflect on their experiences through discussions, reading, writing, math, block building and art activities. As the children work to make sense of their interactions with the environment, they begin to develop an understanding of their world. They are actively involved in the construction of knowledge.

Summer 6/7's Group - Meadow Mice

During the summer, this group becomes the 6/7’s Meadow Mice group.  Many of the children in the Kindergarten have turned 6 throughout the school year and friends that have finished 1st grade join us for summer camp; thus the name change to the 6/7’s Meadow Mice.

In-Depth Summer Studies –
“Eco-Explorations” – occurs in odd-numbered summers
During this summer study, the Meadow Mice investigate the natural world through explorations of habitats and ecosystems, animals and flora, naturalists and their work, and environmental themes, including, extinction, conservation and recycling. We also conduct scientific investigations in our classroom, in the ECDC garden and on the Notre Dame campus. Our study incorporates ample opportunity for reading and writing as the children research topics of interest related to the natural world. The children also examine how nature inspires artistic representation through a mini-study of the landscape painting, sculpture and the photography of Ansel Adams.

“Global Explorations” – occurs in even-numbered summers
Our other summer study is “Global Explorations.” This study nurtures the children’s knowledge of, understanding of, and respect for the people, cultures and nations of the world through an exploration of the lives of children in different countries. As we investigate how children live, we study four important aspects of childhood, play, schooling, storytelling, and communal relationships. The children begin our study of human geography by mapping ourselves on the globe through a close examination of our local geography, namely, the city of South Bend. We will learn how the city functions as a community and investigate the workings of an historic neighborhood.

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 the meadow enjoying Soccer Shots, Art and a Book, creative dramatics, sports fun, picnic snacks, 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., 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 Summer 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.

Curricular Components

Balanced Literacy Program
Literacy learning, the ability to read, write, speak, listen and think, is nurtured through a balanced approach that consists of direct instruction of skills and authentic reading, writing and language experiences that are integrated in the project study. Story time, independent reading, and shared reading are key aspects of the program. Children draw and write daily journal entries. They participate in a Writer’s Workshop that is designed to foster their ability to construct coherent ideas and simple stories. Children enjoy oral tales, chapter books, finger plays and songs. They listen to, read and recite poetry as they compose a poetry book of their favorite verse throughout the year. The learning environment is a print rich classroom that celebrates the children’s literacy work.

Math Curriculum
The kindergarten program implements the tenets of the Mathematics Their Way curriculum in the context of the children’s project work. Counting, patterning, sorting, classifying, comparing, number concept and place value are skills and concepts that are developed through the use of hands-on manipulatives and learning activities. The children participate in a 100th day of school celebration that allows them to joyfully explore numbers throughout the school year.

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 to the Open House or 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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