ECDC-ND School Year 2’s Group

During the school year our community includes 15 children and 3 teachers with a 4th 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 SY

“Toys and Play” and “Falling into Fun!”- Our First In-depth Studies of the School Year~

We are very excited to begin our year together by exploring our new environment and all of the materials it has to offer. We call this study “Toys and Play” because we know that toys and playing are what two-year-olds are all about. We know that young children learn best through hands-on manipulation of intriguing and stimulating materials in a play-based environment. This is the reason we begin our year by highlighting various play materials to create with and to explore. 

At the same time, we begin introducing our routines and our more structured activities such as group time, art activities, sensory play, music time together and the indoor and outdoor large muscle play spaces – the gross motor room and playground

In addition to our study of “Toys and Play,” smaller seasonal experiences, such as “apples,” “leaves,” and “pumpkins” are integrated into our curriculum.  We explore and taste apples, collect and rake leaves on our playground, and investigate pumpkins and gourds.

The children enjoy a variety of sensory activities that encourage them to explore materials with all of their senses.  The items in our sensory table are changed frequently to keep it new and exciting. Throughout the year, the sensory table is filled with such materials as sand, water, rice, soil, etc. We also include many sensory activities in our free choice art experiences, such as finger painting, playing with shaving cream, play dough, etc. Our goal is to plan enriching, organized, safe activities that encourage independence, creativity and cooperation. 

“Down on the Farm”
After concluding our exploration of “Toys and Play” and the “Falling into Fun” season, the natural move is to investigate farms and the animals found on the farm.  The children learn about the names of the animals, the sounds the various animals make, and the names of baby animals.  The children have a wonderful time acting out these animals in their play.  Through stories, songs, art, finger plays, games, and movement children expand their understanding of farm life including caring for animals and picking apples and pumpkins.   

“We Like to Eat, Eat, Eat”

During this study the children learn all about healthy foods and “sometimes” foods and ways to keep our bodies healthy.  Children learn more about very familiar foods and also discover new foods.  Children enjoy the opportunity to try a variety of fruits, vegetables, and dairy products they may not have tried before.  Children investigate healthy foods incorporating literacy, math, science and social studies throughout their activities, play, and learning.  

“The Clothes We Wear in Winter” and “Winter”

As the temperatures become colder the children begin talking and learning about “The clothes we wear in Winter” and the season of “Winter.”  They are eager to learn about the clothes we wear to stay warm and the weather of winter (e.g, cold, snow, ice).  If we are fortunate to have a snowy winter, the children have the opportunity to bring the snow into the room to manipulate and investigate as the snow begins to melt as well as to explore the snow outside.  They also share what they like to do in the winter with their families and friends.  In some cases, children are building snow people and making snow angels for the first time – such excitement and delight!

“Friends and Families,” “Babies,” and “Pets”

“Friends and Families” is a wonderful study that allows the children to share information about their families and how to be friends.  They take great pride in their families and knowing who is in their family.  As the children tell one another about their families, they discover that many of the children have baby siblings at home and some with babies on the way.  This discovery launches an investigation of “Babies,” what it means to be a big brother or sister, and all the things that babies need to grow happy and healthy.  With our focus on families, we can’t forget our “Pets.”  They are also an important part of the family.  The children learn about how to care for pets and also which animals make good pets and which ones don’t (often several children would like to have a monkey as a pet!)

“We’re Going to the Zoo, Zoo, Zoo” and “Spring has Sprung”

The sequence of these two studies depends on Mother Nature and the arrival of spring.  When winter lingers, the children explore “Zoo” life and the different animals found in a zoo.  The children learn about the different animal habitats, the names of these baby animals, and how the animals are cared for in the zoo.  When “Spring” arrives, the children watch the trees and plants begin to bloom and the little animals (e.g., chipmunks, rabbits, squirrels) reemerge on our playground, learning about and celebrating this annual renewal of life. 

Summer 2/3's Group - Roly Polies
During the summer, our nickname is the Roly Polies and we will be a group of 15 children with 3 teachers all of the time and a 4th adult/teacher much of the time.
 
Summer Study – “Colorful Days of Summer”
The children will spend their summer days exploring the colors in the world around them both in the classroom and outside on the playground. They will investigate the birds, bugs, trees, plants and more. Inside, we will do some color mixing, sand painting and go on color hunts throughout the building. The children will also have the opportunity to plant seeds and care for garden plants. We hope to have the opportunity to eat produce we grow for special snacks (e.g., tomatoes, green peppers). Through the exploration of plants, we will compare the colors of many of our favorite fruits and vegetables. Summer fun would not be complete without the investigation of sand and water. We will explore the different properties of sand and water, investigate how water feels in different stages, learn about the varied uses of water and practice filling and emptying various containers. The children will sift sand, color sand, scoop and pour sand, and draw in sand. They will combine sand and water together as they investigate what happens to each element. A delightful summer of concrete, hands-on (and sometimes messy) activities fostering the children’s growing knowledge about the world around them.
 
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. 3/10’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 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 are scheduled in two week increments.  When the next two weeks of special activities has been finalized, 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.
    • ART SUPPLIES
      • 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. Because many of the children in the 2’s are still working on toilet training, we ask that you please provide several sets of clothing, including socks and an extra pair of shoes to ensure your child has plenty of extra clothing.  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 in the 2’s:  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

Learning Experiences and Goals

In the 2’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, learning the routines within our activity room, learning about the world around us, and toilet training are a few of the things we are constantly working on as we explore and learn together. We will explore and discover these and much more through the projects that we plan and implement. Within each project, we plan a variety of activities that encourage social, emotional, creative, physical, and cognitive development. The children are learning to play together in a group setting. We model and encourage sharing. Taking toys from others, hitting, and biting are typical behaviors for some two year olds. Our ultimate goal

is for the children to use words instead of physical ways to express themselves. We remind them to use their words and help them by giving them the words to say to their friends.

Two year olds also like to do things by themselves. And, it is surprising just how much they can do! We appreciate this and find as many things as we can that they can do. They help in the clean-up process. They help wipe up spills, push in their chairs, throw away their snack/lunch, etc. They can also begin to put on their own socks and shoes. And, during toileting, they can pull down their pants and/or hold up their shirt/dress. 

Activities

Young children learn best through exploration and play. Therefore, we are always active and busy throughout the day! We offer a variety of activities on a daily basis during both the morning and afternoon programs. These activities include: free choice time, art, group time, small group activities as well as large muscle time. During choice time, children can choose activities from throughout the room in which they are interested in participating. Within the room, we offer a quiet area where books and duplos are available, a block area, a manipulative area, a dramatic play area and a science area. 

During art, children are encouraged to explore the materials and we appreciate those explorations. We are not concerned with the end product. This is referred to as process-oriented art. Our crayons, markers, and glue are used as community property. We keep all of our supplies together and will let you know when we need you to replace them. 

Our group times always include reading books and singing songs and/or fingerplays. They often also include dancing and movement activities as well as cognitive learning activities. Whenever possible, we try to read books that relate to our project. This is our large group time and is the most structured time of our day. Children are not required to join us for group time if they do not want to. Other areas of the room and activities are available for those children who are not interested in joining us for a story. We do find, however, that the majority of the children, if not all of them, often choose to participate in this part of our day. 

Small group and individual time is very important for the children. We provide these opportunities for the children each day as well. This allows time for the teachers to talk with individual children and help them complete activities, such as puzzles, art activities and matching games. We also spend time each day reading to small groups of children. 

When the weather permits, we go outside two times each day. We offer a climbing structure, sandbox, bikes, balls, as well as many other gross motor activities while we are on the playground. We also utilize our indoor gross motor room for large muscle activities on a daily basis. This allows us to exercise even on those inclement weather days! 

After such a busy morning, most of the children are tired. We rest from approximately 12:30-2:30. During rest time we have quiet music playing for the children to listen to and the shades are drawn. Children who wake up before 2:30 or those that do not fall asleep are able to look at books and do quiet activities on their cots. At 2:30, we raise our window shades, turn on the lights and begin our wake up process. 

Seperation Anxiety / Toilet Training

Separation Anxiety
Separation can be difficult for some children. We have found that separation is easier for both the children and the family members if the good-byes are short. A consistent arrival routine is helpful for the child. An example of an arrival routine would be going to the locker, signing in, saying hello to the teachers, giving a kiss and hug and waving good-bye through the window on your way out. All of the teachers are more than willing to help each child make the transition from home to ECDC. We will comfort the children and help them to become comfortable in the environment and engaged in activities. We understand how difficult it is to leave a child who is upset and/or crying. Please feel free to call the ECDC office to find out how your child is doing. 

Having parents visit the activity room during the day is often challenging for the children especially as they are adjusting to the new environment. They will often expect to be able to leave and go home if parents come to visit and they do not expect to say good-bye a second time. Please be assured that your child will adjust to ECDC and separation will become easier as the year progresses. We promise! 

Toilet Training 
The children in the 2’s are often in different stages of toilet training. We typically have children in diapers as well as a couple of children in underwear or ready to make the transition to underwear. We work closely with families during this process. In order to be successful, communication is essential. We watch closely for signs of readiness, such as staying dry for long periods of time, waking up from rest time dry, recognizing being wet or having a BM and going potty in the toilet. When we see these signs, we will be sure to let you know. And, we ask that you do the same if you begin to see these signs at home. Once your child is in underwear, please bring several complete changes of clothing and an extra pair of shoes if possible. 

We change diapers/go potty at regular intervals throughout the day (8:15, 10:30, 12:30, 2:30 or as children wake up and 4:00). Children will also be changed at other times throughout the day when their diaper is wet or soiled. We change diapers with the child standing up in the bathroom to encourage each child to try the potty at each changing. We provide wipes and 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. We will send diaper reminders home when your child is low. With parents’ written approval, we may use a preventive diaper ointment (e.g. Desitin) that you provide. One of our main goals in the 2’s is to encourage independence. We encourage children to pull down their own pants and change as much of their own clothing as possible. To make toilet training easier for your child, please keep in mind that two piece outfits are easier to get on and off. Overalls with buckles and one piece short outfits take longer for children to undo and require more teacher assistance. Twos like to do things themselves and we encourage as much of this as possible. A great deal of encouragement is used in the toilet training process. We clap our hands and use encouraging words as we celebrate accomplishments. We are excited about all of the children’s progress and share our excitement with you and the children.

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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