Welcome to


For Parents




For information about class availability for the 2017-2018 school year or to get information about registering for the 2018-2019 school year please call 412-486-5591 or email us at preschool.office@stpaulsumc.com.


The Preschool has several openings in our 4-year-old class for the remainder of the 2017-2018 school year.  If you would like more information about this space or would like an application for this space please email to the above email address or call 412-486-5591.  Child must have turned 4 years of age by December 31, 2017.



Click here to view or print the Preschool Parent Handbook

Click here to print an Emergency Contact / Parental Consent form

Click here to print a Permanent Record Form

Click her to print Child Health form



The United Way
Did you know that if your employer participates in the United Way Campaign, you can designate the funds you donate to go to St. Paul's Preschool?  Simply obtain a United Way Contributor's Choice form from your employer and specify our preschool's code,
941482, and the monthly or annual amount you wish to contribute.

Preschool Parent Book Exchange:

We have two shelves in our Conference Room dedicated to a parent book exchange!  Please bring any books you have that might be of interest to other parents.  These can be great novels you read or interesting parenting books.  After you donate your book(s), check out the ones on the shelves donated by other parents.  You might find a special "treasure" just waiting for you!  This is a great way to recycle books and share with other



The articles below deal with cognitive skills development.

Why is Cognitive Development Important in Preschoolers?

by DIANA RODRIGUEZ  Last Updated: Feb 18, 2015


A preschool-age child's most pressing question is often "why?" Children's minds are constantly working and processing, and as they grow older and more mature and learn more about the world, they're able to better process and understand the things that they do, hear and see. Preschool curricula are designed to stimulate a child's cognitive development and interest in learning at this exciting, busy age to help set the stage for success in high school, college and adulthood.


Cognitive Development Defined

Cognitive development is the process by which a child learns to reason, solve problems and to think consciously. Cognitive development allows preschool-age children ages 3 to 4 years old to develop their own questions about the world around them and how it works. Preschool-age children learn by playing, listening, watching, asking questions and doing things for themselves. These activities help a child's brain develop and understand more complex thoughts and processes as they grow.

Momentous Milestones

Cognitive development milestones for preschool-age children include learning to write some letters and draw circles, identifying some colors and drawing more complex people. Other milestones include better understanding of abstract concepts, such as the difference between morning, noon and night. Children in preschool typically begin participating in more imaginative play with more complex plots.

Start Early

Preschool helps promote cognitive development and prepare young children for the challenges ahead -- math, reading, critical thinking and problem-solving. In preschool, children begin the basics for learning numbers, letters, vocabulary, speech -- the skills necessary to learn to read in elementary school. Cognitive development in early childhood can indicate success in the later school years, as children who develop strong cognitive development skills in the younger years are often better readers in high school.

Play is Serious Business

Play is crucial for cognitive development. Preschool provides opportunities for structured and free play to stimulate cognitive development. Play promotes healthy brain development and helps children build confidence, begin to solve problems and work with others. These skills help children build leadership skills, group skills and become more creative -- important skills that a child needs to succeed throughout life.


Cognitive Development in 3-5 Year Olds

The preschool period is a time of rapid growth along a number of developmental measures, especially children’s thinking abilities, or cognition.

ByMichelle Anthony, PhD



Hover over each Learning Benefit below for a detailed explanation.

Cognitive Skills


Sorting and Classifying

The preschool period is a time of rapid growth along a number of developmental measures, not the least of which is children’s thinking abilities, or cognition. Across this time period, children learn to use symbolic thought, the hallmarks of which are language and symbol use, along with more advanced pretend play. Children this age show centration of thought, meaning their focus is limited to one aspect of a situation or object. Memory abilities come online and children show their own ways of categorizing, reasoning, and problem solving.

Memory is the ability to acquire, store, and recall information or experiences across time. It is not until age 3 that children can reliably do this, although they remain better at recognition than recall, and they do not show the ability to spontaneously use mnemonic strategies to assist remembering for a number of years. Preschoolers use language to encode and compare information for later retrieval; thus, talking about events increases children’s memory of them. Want to work on phonics and memory at the same time? Check out this fun Clifford game.

Memories are more easily recalled when the child is a participant as opposed to an observer, or when something makes a significant impression. Children’s ability to create mental images of people or events also facilitates memory. Help your child learn to create and maintain images with these fun puzzles.

Children tend to use routines to define understanding of events, and to recall sequence, but preschoolers’ sense of time is very general (e.g., they may use the word “yesterday” to mean a month ago). Want to develop your child’s sequencing skills? Try this interactive game. As a result of their relatively weak memory skills, they can repeatedly hear the same story over and over, and delight in each retelling as if it were the first time.


Russian researcher Lev Vygotsky believed cognition advanced through social interactions and problem solving. Vygotsky’s work demonstrates that with the support of a More Knowledgeable Other (MKO) (adult or more skilled peer), children’s ability shows marked increase, as long as the interactions were not too advanced for the child’s present level of skill. He believed the right level of challenge would be in the child’s “Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD),” which would be optimized by scaffolding (support and guidance that the MKO would provide without taking over).

Vygotsky also noticed that, as children were moving towards independence with challenging tasks, they would talk to themselves. Termed private speech, this self-talk is highly prevalent in children ages 3-7. Thereafter, it mutates into inner speech or internal thought, although it is likely to resurface at challenging or confusing tasks. According to Vygotsky, children’s use of language in this way is the foundation of their executive function skills, including attention, memorization, planning, impulse control, etc.

Preschool Thinking
Preschoolers are firmly in the stage Piaget called the preoperational (pre-logical) period (from 2-7). While current researchers question if preschoolers are as illogical as Piaget posited, anyone who has spent time with them knows they think differently than adults! Notably, they are not able to reverse actions (e.g., understand that if 3+3=6, then 6-3=3, or worrying that if they break a bone, it cannot be fixed). In addition, they are unable to conserve (to recognize that objects that change in form do not change in amount). In his famous penny conservation experiment, Piaget demonstrated that until about the age of 6, children would say that the spread out row of pennies had more than the row with the (equal number) of more squished together pennies, even if they themselves counted each row. Piaget explains this contradiction by stating that children’s logic in this time period is ruled by perceptions as opposed to reasoning.

The idea of perceptually-based centration expands beyond conservation to the preschoolers’ larger world view. In general, children this age are egocentric; they cannot spontaneously and independently vary from their own perspective. For example, children may say that grass grows so that they do not get hurt when they fall or because they like chocolate, everyone must. As an extension, they believe that everyone shares the same viewpoint as them, so of course they should get the cookies if they think that, everybody does. As a component of egocentric thought, preschoolers show animism, the belief that nature and objects are alive with human-like characteristics (e.g., when your child says that the ground made them fall). The ability to decenter is one of the hallmarks of the completion of the preoperational stage.

Children’s illogical thinking extends across various domains. For example, in their classification abilities, they cannot yet understand that one object can be classified multiple ways. For example, children may say there are more girls than children in a co-ed class, or that they don’t want fruit for snack, they want a pear. In the same way, they will often over-generalize their category labels. For example, a child may call all animals with four legs “dogs,” or all people with gray hair “grandma.”

In addition, preschoolers often rely on transductive reasoning, whereby they believe the similarities between two objects or the sequence of events provides evidence of cause and effect. For example, if a child sees their teacher at school in the morning and again when they leave, they may believe their teacher must live there. Similarly, if their friend is Italian and eats pasta, they may believe that eating pasta will make someone Italian. In these examples, we see the way preschoolers’ thoughts are dominated by their perceptions. As an extension, preschoolers demonstrate magical thinking, whereby they believe that if they wish for something, they have the power to make it happen, including accidentally wishing harm on a sibling, or being the cause of their parent’s divorce. Try Flabby Physics for some fun ways to develop your child’s sense of cause and effect.


Symbol Use
The time from 3-5 is the heart of symbol development in young children. Use of symbols entails the ability to use one thing to represent another, for example to have the letters ‘dog’ represent an actual dog, have a drawing/map stand for a location, or to have a checker represent a cookie in a game. Preschoolers learn to mentally use and represent tangible objects through images, words, and drawings. Encourage your child’s drawing skills with these free fun apps: GlowFree or DoodleBuddy. While children cannot yet manipulate these symbols, or represent abstract ideas, the ability to use symbols rather than engage in simple motor play is a defining characteristic of the preschool period.

In fact, imaginative play is related to cognitive growth and achievement. For example, preschoolers who engage in more complex pretend play demonstrate advanced general intellectual development and are seen as more socially competent by their teachers. Children who create imaginary friends, who previously would have been red-flagged as at risk for maladjustment, demonstrate more advanced mental representations and more sociability with their peers than those who do not.

While there is no denying the unique perspective that preschoolers view the world with, there are contexts and domains within which these very young children do in fact think logically. The key to this “hidden ability” is the amount of knowledge or experience the child has in the particular domain or area of study. Importantly, the way this knowledge is acquired—through investment, engagement, exploration, and discovery—is the means by which preschoolers advance in their thinking and reasoning skills. 


Please visit our calendar section for special events planned for December




You will need:


White drawing paper

Plastic bag

Small container


Paint Brush

Cover the work area with the plastic bag.

Using the markers have child draw over the paper

Place a container of water with the paint brush on the work area

Dip the brush into the water and have child wash the water all over her paper watching as the marker changes and bleeds together

Keep washing over the paper until it is completely done.



You will need:

Crayon stubs with wrappers removed

Matte board (cardboard works fine too)


Cookie sheet covered with foil

Craft sticks or stir sticks

Preheat oven to 250 degrees

Have child place matte board on foil-covered cookie sheet.  Place unwrapped crayon stubs on matte sheet.

Place the cookie sheet in the oven for around ten minutes

Remove cookie sheet from oven and let cool slightly so it is safe to handle

Have child carefully push and swirl the melted crayon wax with the craft stickes to create a fun design.

Let dry


Brown marker (and other colored markers)

Aluminum foil

Long tube of cardboard

Dried beans

Masking tap

If the tube already has two circular pieces on the ends, remove one of them.  If the tube has nothing on the ends, you will need to seal off one of the ends so that you can pour in the beans without them falling through.  Take some pieces of tape and stick them to each other so that you have two nonsticky surfaces.  Now, take the pad of tape and attach it to one end of the tube. 

Have child pour some beans into the tube.  Try shaking the tube up and down a little to hear how the beans sound inside the tube.  Add more beans if desired.

Repeat step one on the other side of the tube to seal off the end so the beans cannot fall out.

Have child slowly turn the tube upside down and let the beans fall through the tube.

In can place small crumpled pieces of foil into the tube to slow down the beans as they move through the tube. 


You will need:

Cold, cooked spaghetti



Waxed paper

Small bowl

Place a sheet of wax paper on the table

Pour some glue into the small bowl

Dip a strand of spaghetti into the glue and arrange it on the wax paper into a curly S or curliecue shape.  Make sure the strands are touching , so when it dries you can lift the shape off in one piece.

Repeat with as many strands as you'd like.

Sprinkle with glitter.  You may need to add a little more glue.

Let the spaghetti ornament dry overnight.

Once dried carefully peel the was paper off the spaghetti ornament.

Attach a string to the masterpiece and hang it up.


In the office at both the McKnight Center and Ferguson Center we have a list of commonly available snacks that are free of peanuts, tree nuts and eggs.  We invite you to stop in and take a look at this list.  You can also access the list by going to: http://snacksafety.com/snackguide.


                                   SNACK IDEAS


Some parents have asked for suggestions on what type of snacks to bring for their child's snack day.  Here is a list of some simple snack ideas. 

Trail Mix - a mixture of whole-grain cereal, dried fruits, sunflower seeds and dried coconut flakes.  You can also add in raisins, cranberries and pretzels.

Small box of raisins

Fruit - please remember that grapes if served MUST be cut in half.  Bananas, apple slices, berries are all good choices.

Mini bagels with cream cheese

String cheese

Yogurt tubes


Whole wheat pretzels and crackers

Crackers and cheese

Chips and salsa




Carrots and ranch dip



You will need:

2 cups low-fat or fat-free milk

1 package (4-serving size) Vanilla Flavor Instant Pudding

2 bananas

2 cups small strawberries

2 cups seedless grapes (cut in half

1 1/2 cups pretzel sticks

Add milk to the dry pudding and stir until pudding thickens

Peel bananas; cut into 1-inch slices.  Place fruit on serving plate

Skewer fruit with pretzel sticks just before serving.  Serve as dippers with pudding dip


You will need:

1 13.8 ounce package of refrigerated pizza dough

All purpose flour, for dusting

1 cup marinara sauce

1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

1/2 cups grated parmesan cheese

3/4 cup chopped pepperoni, black olives and/or mushrooms

Olive oil for brushing

Pinch dry oregano

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.  Roll out the pizza dough on a lightly floured surface into a 12 by 16 inch rectangle.  Cut into 6 by 8 inch quarters, the cut each quarter in half diagonally to make 8 triangles.

Brush each triangle of dough with marinara sauce, leaving a 1/2 inch border all around; sprinkle with mozzarella and parmesan (reserve some of the sauce and cheese for topping).  Layer a few pieces of pepperoni, olives and/or mushrooms over the cheese, reserving a few pieces for the topping.  Slightly fold in the two far corners, then roll up the dough from the long side, like a burrito, until the filling is fully enclosed in a tube, pressing gently to seal.

Carefully insert a popsicle stick or wooden skewer into the center of each pizza roll and arrange on the prepared baking sheets. Brush the rolls with olive oil and more marinara sauce; sprinkle with oregano.  Press any extra fillings ingredients onto the rolls.  Sprinkle with more mozzarella and parmesan.  Bake until golden, about 20 minutes.


You will need:

1 (15 oz) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed

1 1/2 teaspoons coconut oil, melted

2 tablespoons honey

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon ground clove

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/2 teaspoon Kosher and sea salt

Preheat oven to 375 degrees

Pat chickpeas dry with a clean dish towel or paper towel then toss in melted coconut oil.  line a baking sheet with parchment paper and spread chickpeas in one even layer.

Bake 30-40 minutes or just until beans begin to turn crispy. The chickpeas should have no softness left when removed from the oven.

While chickpeas are baking, combine remaining ingredients and mix well.  Gently toss hot chickpeas in the honey and spice mixture.  Return to baking sheet, spread in one even layer, and bake an additional 10 minutes, or until a glaze has formed over the chickpeas.  Cool completely before serving.


2 cups cooked, unsalted chickpeas

3-4 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

2 tablespoons peanut butter or almond butter

1/4 cup maple syrup

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Add all ingredients into the cup of a large food processor, and puree until smooth.

Serve with fresh fruit, crackers, or pita chips



The Little Mouse, The Red Ripe Strawberry, and The Big Hungry Bear - Audrey Woods

Go Away Big Green Monster - Ed Emberly

Hand, Hand, Fingers, Thumb - Al Perkins

The How Do Dinosaurs Say I'm Mad - Jane Yolen

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs - Judi Barrett

The Little House - Virginia Burton

Baby Duck and the Bad Eyeglasses - Amy Hest


Dear St. Paul's Preschool Families I would like to welcome you and your child to St. Paul's Preschool.  This 2015-2016 school year marks our 44th year as an early childhood educational center.  I have been a part of this program for the past twenty-one years, first as a classroom teacher (15 year) and most recently as the director (seven years).

It is important for you to know that we view you as your child's first and most important teacher!  We want to work in partnership with you as we share information about your child and make decisions together about your child's care.  This helps us be able to provide consistent care between home and school, resulting in your child feeling comfortable, safe and respected within our facility.  Good working relationships with families enable the teaching staff to be more responsive to each child's needs.

Our program philosophy clearly states that "parents are an integral part of our program.  Their input and information about their child is continually sought and valued.  Parents are involved in every part of the St. Paul's program."

We ask that you walk your child into the classroom each day because the teaching staff and I enjoy sharing information and saying hello to you.  Each class will have an area displaying your child's work.  Please visit this area often with your child!  At eh end of each day, a staff member will give you a summary of what has happened during the day so we encourage parents to arrive at least five minutes before dismissal time.  If you are a working parent and cannot pick your child up after class, a detailed and personal email will be sent to you by the teacher after class enabling you to receive the same information about your child's preschool day.

There are many ways to become a part of the program.  Here are a few:

*Become a member of the Parent of Preschoolers (a parent group which meets once per month in the evening)

* Become involved in our annual fund raiser, the Santa Express (Many activities to prepare for this major event can be done at home)

*Become a classroom volunteer (party parent, library parent, classroom helper, equipment and repair helper and/or field trip chaperone)  These positions are detailed in your Parent Handbook found on our website: www.stpaulspreschoolumc.org

*Attend an Open House evening event during the year

*Attend a Family Sing-a-Long event during the year

*Record "books on tape" for our classroom listening centers. (This can be done at home)

*Share your family's culture with the class (special foods can be sent for snack time, special games, songs and dances can be taught, and special ceremonies or traditions can be explained)

Volunteering in the preschool is so important for your child.  Your involvement early in your child's life sets him/her on course to succeed academically because you are showing that you value education.  Staying connected to the school can give parents ideas of how to expand what their child learns in school.

Being involved with St. Paul's Preschool also helps parents connect to other people.  You will be able to make new acquaintances, get to know friends better and help your own self-confidence increase.

Volunteer sign up sheets will be given out at the Parent Orientation meeting in August.

Please remember that St. Paul's Preschool has an Open Door policy.  Parents and family members are welcome to visit at any time during the school day.  We encourage you to contact the office (412-486-5591/preschool.office@stpaulsumc.com) or your child's classroom teacher to set up a time if you would like to spend the day with us!

Together we can provide the very best learning and growing environment for your child!


I'm looking forward to knowing you and your child this year!

Laurel Webster

Laurel Webster, St. Paul's Preschool Director




Accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children