Infant and Toddler

Three classrooms: the Moon, Sun and Star Rooms, make up our infant-toddler wing. The staff working with the infants and toddlers under age two maintains a 1:3 teacher-to-child ratio. It is our goal to provide a nurturing, stimulating and supportive environment in which children can learn and grow together. These classrooms are characterized by a reciprocity of respect among children and caregivers, supporting children as they move naturally through their days. Children are offered choices of materials, tactile experiences and a wide range of developmental opportunities. Consistent and predictable routines are central to curriculum as they encourage children with opportunities for independence, socialization and self-assurance. Through daily pages and daily charts we share the child’s day.

Routines are also a part of the learning experience to encourage children with opportunities for independence, socialization and self-assurance. Consistent predictable days contribute to infants and toddlers becoming confident, eager, lifelong learners. Nurturing care- giving opportunities present enriching moments for children and adults to connect, grow and understand each other.


There are three transition groups: the Seahorse, Starfish and Turtle Rooms on our first floor are for children aged two to three. The staff working with the two to three year-olds maintains a 1:4 teacher-to-child ratio. Children in this age group are offered a variety of materials and choices to practice their emerging socialization and cognitive skills as they transition from toddler to preschool. Teachers support children as they form their social identities as self and in their social group.


The Grasshopper, Ladybug, Caterpillar, Bumblebee, Butterfly and Dragonfly Rooms, offer full-day programs for three to five-year-olds. The staff working with the three to five year-olds maintains a 1:7 teacher-to-child ratio. Class meetings provide a time for children and teachers to construct and develop their identities and relationships within their classroom, practice listening to the ideas of their peers, and plan their activity to try out their ideas. Materials and experiences encourage literacy, mathematical and scientific inquiry, artistic expression and social play. The daily classroom schedules include large blocks of time in which children, with support from teachers, make their own choices about how to use their time. There is a balance of large and small groups of children throughout the day. Children have large blocks of time for outdoor play and classrooms go on frequent walks around PSU campus and Portland.


Preschool classrooms share studio spaces with studio specialists who play an integral role in curriculum and planning of child experiences along with classroom teachers. In the studio and classrooms, children have the opportunity to explore their learning and develop a deeper understanding through long-term project work. A project may start as a seed of an idea, brought to the school by a parent, developed in a classroom, or generated through the ongoing studio work. These discoveries are shared with the studio teachers and a project is developed, with opportunities for children to develop theories, test ideas, and inquire more about the study. Children walk away from this experience as competent and capable learners.

Food and Nutrition

Our food and nutrition program strives to cultivate an appreciation for food and where it comes from, while providing opportunities for children to become engaged with cooking and food. Our cooks aim to foster relationships between our kitchen and the children, their families, and our community.

HGCDC kitchen staff prepare daily breakfast, lunch and afternoon snack. Weekly menus are posted in each classroom and on the board near the kitchen. Menus are frequently reviewed and updated, making changes aligned with family preferences and relevant current health research. The kitchen staff has reduced consumption of processed foods and foods with high sugar content by preparing much of the food from scratch on-site. Our milk, milk products and meats are free of added hormones. Fresh fruits and vegetables are emphasized with an effort to include local, organic produce whenever possible. A vegetarian option is available each day and we fully accommodate most food allergies. Our kitchen staff are actively involved with classroom projects, visiting regularly with children and asking for their feedback as they try out new foods or recipes.

Our kitchen is a space to share and make connections, bringing in everyone’s experiences and perspectives. Just as each ingredient in a recipe has its own intention, everyone in our community contributes to the vitality of the kitchen.

HGCDC Notes from the Kitchen

Summer Studies (new)

Summer Studies are offered weeks engage, enrich and further provoke the thinking of children aged 6 – 10. Current and past HGCDC teachers work together to design and provide experiences for children that stretch their minds and call them into collaboration. Summer Studies are held at HGCDC as a home base, but often use the PSU campus and the City of Portland as their learning environment. Past experiences have included: Art in the City : Exploring Public Art; Nature scapes in the City; Print Making; Ceramics Clay; A Week in the City Woods