ECDC-SMC SY 3/4’s Group

Hello! Welcome to the ECDC-SMC 3/4’s age group.  During the school year, our classroom community includes 20 children and 2 teachers with a 3rd teacher most of the time.  ECDC-SMC 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

“All About School” and “All About Me/Family” Studies
The school year begins with an “All About School” study during which the children learn the names of their friends and teachers in addition to learning about the 3/4’s classroom, toys and educational materials. The children enjoy books that describe the many things that happen during a preschool day, such as playtime, helpful teachers, art, group learning time, singing together, snack time and lunch, arrival/drop-off times, and rest time. The children participate in engaging activities with interesting materials that promote getting to know each other, the room, and the ECDC school.  Through these activities and experiences the children enhance their love of learning and come to know that preschool is all about learning and fun!  The children are then delighted to begin the next study “All AboutMe/Family” a natural extension.

“Fall,” “Winter,” and “Spring” Studies
The arrival of each new season, Fall, Winter, and Spring sets the stage for a new study.  Our studies of the seasons allow us to bring natural items inside to explore and investigate.  Nature walks on the beautiful Saint Mary’s campus are a wonderful way to collect items and to see the seasonal changes.  

“Health and Nutrition”
Through hands on exploration, the children discuss, taste and enjoy different healthy foods and “sometimes” foods, as well as learn about the grocery stores and markets where we purchase delicious and healthy foods. The Dramatic Play Area is transformed into the “3/4’s Market,” where the children will have the opportunity for rich pretend play as they go shopping, stock the grocery shelves and even become a cashier.  In addition to healthy foods, the children learn about and experience different ways to exercise and learn how we care for our own bodies through hand washing, bathing, covering our mouths when we cough and sneeze, and visiting the doctor and dentist regularly. 

“Authors and Illustrators” 
Three and four years olds love stories and books!  Indeed, they never tire of hearing their favorites!  Our study of “Authors and Illustrators” provides children the opportunity to explore several different authors/illustrators – enjoying new/different books by favorite authors, discovering new favorites (both books and authors), all while cherishing old favorites.  The children also learn about being an author/illustrator as they create their own books during this study.  What a joyful celebration of story, imagination, and creativity!       

“Things that Go”
Our discovery of “Things That Go” is always an exciting time … the children love vehicles of all kinds.  Together we explore cars, trucks, construction vehicles, trains, planes, and boats.   It is always amazing how much the children already know about these modes of transportation and how eager they are to share their knowledge and information with friends and ask questions in addition to learning new things.

“A, B, C, Fun!” and “1, 2, 3 Numbers”
 Next, the 3/4’s children explore letters and numbers.  During these studies, the children enjoy exploring letters that are important to them, such as the letters in their names, and the sounds of those letters, as well as counting and learning about numerals.  The wonderful materials in the classroom are used for practicing our numbers and letters.  Literature, songs, finger plays, and small group games enhance the children’s learning.  Three year olds are enthusiastic letter and number learners and are eager to share their new skills!

Summer 4/5's Group - Nature Detectives

During the summer we are a 4/5’s age group and our nickname is the Nature Detectives. Our group includes 20 children with 2 teachers and a college student or teacher’s aide.  Depending on the age of your child, he/she will either be in the Chirping Crickets (older 3 year olds and young 4 year olds) or in the Nature Detectives (older 4 year olds).

Summer In-depth Studies –
“Once Upon a Time: Storybook Adventures” in the Chirping Crickets
Each summer, the Chirping Crickets go on “Storybook Adventures,” as the children explore well known books and stories, authors, and illustrators. Music, art, creative dramatics, games, math and science, and other hands-on activities extend our stories in exciting ways.  From going on a teddy bear picnic after reading bear books to having the zoo visit after reading about zoo animals, the children have a busy summer learning about a variety of topics based on their  interests.

“The Wonders of Animals” – occurs during even-numbered years in the Nature Detectives 
Children are very curious about animals; they delight in learning about where animals live, what they eat, and their families (herds, flocks, schools, prides).  The children learn about a variety of animals through exploring animal related books, materials, games, and activities.  They investigate and learn about animals that can be pets as well as about forest and jungle animals, ocean animals, and animals that live in the zoo.   The children explore, discuss, and investigate animals through projects, art, songs, and activities.

“Nature Detectives” – occurs during odd-numbered years in the Nature Detectives
As Nature Detectives, the children investigate, and experience nature first hand, exploring nature through projects, songs, activities, and experiments.  Through the exploration of our outside world around ECDC-SMC and their own backyards, the children gain a greater understanding of nature and an appreciation for its display of color and life. While exploring plants, trees, animals, and insects, the children learn about life cycles and the many elements of living a healthy life. Gardening, nature walks on the Saint Mary’s campus, and harvesting various fruits, vegetables, and herbs provide concrete examples of items of nature and of our use of the natural world.

Summer Special Activities –
This summer the children will have many fun activities to experience. During ECDC-SMC 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. 3/10’s of the special activities, MWF all day schedules have approx. 3/5’s of the activities and TTH all day schedules have approx. 2/5’s 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 8 color Jumbo Crayons
    • 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.
  • Diapers for children still working on toilet training. Each family is responsible for bringing in diapers or pull-ups (if they open and re-close on the sides). Packages of diapers and pull-ups must be brought to us in sealed packages, due to state licensing regulations. ECDC will provide wipes.
  • 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 the 3/4’s, we work on many things together throughout the year. Friendships with children and teachers, socialization, language development and vocabulary, gaining independence and self-help skills, and learning about the world around us are a few of the things we are constantly working on as we explore and learn together. The children are learning to play together in a group setting. We model and encourage turn taking, speaking to others and listening to others in small and large group activities, and problem solving with friends and materials.  The children grow in their ability to use their words with others when problem-solving and the teachers assist by giving them the words to use with their friends. 

    We explore and discover the world around us through engaging and fun in-depth studies. Within each study, the children enjoy a variety of activities that encourage social, emotional, creative, physical, and cognitive development as well as a love of learning.  The children gain an awareness and appreciation of quality children’s literature, development of basic mathematical and science concepts, increased fine and gross motor skills, and growing creativity.  Activities are designed and materials are presented in order to be used comfortably and competently by the children, independently or with minimal assistance, however challenging enough to be exciting and to stimulate new learning.

    General Goals for the 3/4's Room

    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, numbers and letters, authors and illustrators, 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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