ECDC-SMC SY 4’s Group

Hello!  Welcome to the ECDC-SMC 4’s School Year Group. 
Our group includes 24 children and 2 teachers – Ms. Devin Mawhorter and Ms. Loree Greenwood. ECDC-SMC also 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/Families”
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. After getting to know each other, we move on to learning about our families, where we live, and what we do.

As Autumn arrives, the 4’s engage in a study of pumpkins.  Math skills, such as weighing, measuring, and estimating, are important skills that are introduced and practiced during the study.  Field trips and the addition of pumpkins and gourds of all shapes and sizes add to the children’s excitement and engagement.  The children also create their own “farmer’s market” in the dramatic play area.  Wonderful books and songs add to this fabulous fall study.

“Authors and Illustrators”
The joy of books, stories, characters, and words comes alive during a study of beloved Authors and Illustrators, including Jan Brett, Mo Willems, Karma Wilson, Tod Parr, and Audrey Woods.  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.  
Each year, the children, together with their teachers, select 3–4 animals to study in-depth.  The animals chosen have varied from sharks to horses, depending on the children’s interests that year.  Books, props, and of course, play animals, barns, and farms enhance this favorite study.  Lions, tigers, and bears… oh my… (or maybe sharks, horses, and elephants)… each is so interesting and fun!
Summer 4/5's Group - Nature Detectives

During the summer, our nickname is the “Nature Detectives” and we move to the SY 3/4’s classroom, becoming a 4/5’s age group. Our group includes 24 children with 2 teachers and a college student or teacher’s aide.

Summer In-depth Studies –
“The Wonders of Animals” – occurs during even-numbered years  
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
As Nature Detectives, the children investigate, and experience nature first hand, exploring nature through projects, songs, activities, field trips 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 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 tools to problem-solve with others using appropriate communication and conflict resolution strategies


    • 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 to complex cooperative play and experiencing the joyfulness of pretend creative play with friends and play props


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


    • Attending Skills – including following multi-step directions, listening to stories, initiative and persistence with individual & small group activities, participation in conversations with peers/teachers


    • Expressive and Receptive Language Skills – including growing vocabulary, increased conversational turn taking, participation in large and small group discussions, more frequent use of problem-solving words during challenging situations including standing up for one’s point of view or rights


    • 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 of upper and lower case letters, phonemic awareness of consonants, beginning writing – moving from representational marks to writing individual letters to beginning to write own name legibly and other simple words  – cat, dog, mom, dad, etc.


    • Mathematical Learning  – including spatial relationships – over/under, in/out, in front of/behind, matching, sorting and classification, sequencing (3 – 4 step), counting with 1:1 correspondence, recognizing and copying patterns, numeral recognition, measurement and graphing


    • Science Learning – including an inquisitiveness about the world around them, cause and effect, making predictions, making observations, recording data and caring for living things (fish, frog, 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, swinging, jumping, hopping, strength, balance, and control


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


    • Knowledge About Themselves and Their World (cognitive conceptual development) – family, friends, fall (apples and pumpkins), food and nutrition, animals, and community helpers.


    • Develop a sense of belonging to our community – sharing ideas and listening to what others have to say, developing friendships, and a 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!

Classroom Resources

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