4133fd7178b19e441e4ae46b7d943fa7-w204@1x  No Two Alike by Keith Baker

“Follow a pair of birds on a snowflake-filled journey though a gorgeous winter landscape to explore how everything everywhere is wonderfully unique—from branches and leaves to forests and trees to friends and loved ones.” (Publisher’s description)

This story is a delightful way to introduce children to the concept of “same and different.”  Young children learn through opposites, and they learn to see likenesses and differences with practice.  The playful birds, and colorful winter scenes will give children ample opportunities for practicing these skills.

Discriminatory listening is also a skill that can be practiced, and is key for language development, and musical learning. Listen with your child to these live sound recordings from Audubon’s Bird Guide. Use the Audubon interactive website guide to find your favorite backyard birds and learn more about their habits, diets, and songs!

Listen to the Song of the Northern Cardinal

Northern Cardinal Credit:

American Goldfinch Credit:

Listen to the Song of the American Goldfinch




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What happens when schools are delayed or closed?

LittleHands_RectangleLogo_SThursday 1/28/16 Classes in Reston are cancelled today.  We will add a class to the end of the session as a make-up.  Thanks for your flexibility! Class in Manassas will be held as scheduled, with the understanding that if you can’t get there today, a make-up class is available anytime during the Winter session.

Little Hands Inclement Weather Policy  In case of inclement weather, Little Hands will follow the school schedule of the county/city in which class is held.

  • If schools are closed, Little Hands classes will be canceled.
  • If schools are open late, there will be no morning classes.
  • If schools close early, there will be no classes after 12 PM.
  • If “after school and evening activities” are canceled, there will be no classes after 2 PM.

All cancellations will be announced here on the website, on the Little Hands facebook page and on our office phone at 703-631-2046. Thanks for your understanding of how a school delay effects many of our families with older children and for our need to have a consistent, clear policy. We will do our best to add classes to the end of the semester to make up for missed classes due to weather cancellations.

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2015 Fall FREE Preview Class Schedule

ToddlerDrumlargeFREE Preview Classes

Fall 2015

Call 703.631.2046 or email to reserve your family’s spot in one of these all-ages-welcome preview classes in studio locations.

 September 8 Tuesday 10:00 am CENTREVILLE

   Compton Village Rec Center, 14401 Compton Village Dr

 September 9 Wednesday 10:00 am ASHBURN

          Brambleton Comm Center, 42645 Regal Wood Drive

 September 10 Thursday 10:00 am RESTON

          Brown’s Chapel, 11300 Baron Cameron Avenue

 September 10 Thursday 10:00 am MANASSAS

          Freedom Center, GMU Manassas Campus

 September 14 Monday 10:00 am ASHBURN

Creative Dance Center, 44710 Cape Court, Suite #126

 September 15 Tuesday 9:15 am OLNEY

          Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd

4200 Olney-Laytonsville Rd.

 September 15 Tuesday 6:30 PM OLNEY

          Faith Pres. Church, 17309 Old Baltimore Rd.

September 17 Thursday 1:30 PM ROCKVILLE

          UUC, 100 Welsh Park Drive

(NOTE: a free preview or trial is available in Centers and preschools where Little Hands offers enrichment classes.  Let your child’s teacher know and we’ll include them!)

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Happy Father’s Day!


Happy Fathers Day 2015

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Fuzzy Wuzzy Caterpillar – The Struggling Preschooler

Fuzzy Wuzzy caterpillar, curled up on a leaf
Spun her little chrysalis, and then fell fast asleep.
While she was sleeping, she dreamed that she could fly
And later when she woke up, she was a butterfly!

The children in a preschool classroom are all a “flutter” about the magic happening right before their eyes.  The caterpillars are spinning chrysali and soon will be butterflies! They can hardly wait.  We discuss the importance of allowing the butterfly the time and space it needs to push its way out of the chrysalis.  “But what if it needs help?” asks one. “We just have to let it work hard, and get stronger,” I reply.

Photo Credit: Sarah Frook

Photo Credit: Sarah Frook

Allowing the lovely creature to struggle, stretch and work its own way out of the chrysalis is the key to its building the strength needed to survive, to move with coordination, to fly!

Such a clear example from Mother Nature of an important parenting skill – knowing when not to help, to allow a child to work through a struggle on their own, to get stronger as they do, to be able to have the strength and coordination to fly!

We so want our children to succeed, to avoid the pain of struggle, and to “get it” the first time.  That is not always realistic, nor does it teach patience, perseverance and persistence – all characteristics of very successful adults.  In childhood, we learn these skills by working on a task, and sometimes having trouble with it.  As a wise parent friend said to me once, “Small children, small problems…Big children, big problems!” Allowing our children to work hard as small children on small problems, will enable them to problem solve later.

What are some ways we can allow some time and space between a child having trouble with a task, and our jumping in to fix the problem.  Here’s a short list to keep in mind:

  1. Describe what you see. “I see you’re trying to put the cover on that box.”
  2. Ask questions.  “Have you thought about turning the cover?”
  3. Encourage without solving. “Hmmm.  That is difficult, but I know you can do it!”
  4. If frustrations run to the edge of manageable (or over the edge) ask, “Would you like to brainstorm?” OR “How about taking a break and trying again with some new ideas?”
  5. Model the problem-solving steps out loud….”What is going wrong? How can I change what I’m doing to solve the problem?”

Imagine the sense of accomplishment your child will feel, having done it themselves!

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Simple Objects Become Something Else


You’ve probably heard the phrase “Play is Children’s Work,” but what does that mean? The way children learn about the world around them is through their play. They will “practice” a skill through their pretend play over and over again. Often simple objects will become something else through the power of their imagination. A stick can become a pencil, a sword, or a magic wand!

The young toddler may need an adult to model pretend play – “tasting” the cookies on the book page, “Oh yummy!” or “calling” Daddy on the phone, for example. But as they grow, they will enjoy the worlds their imagination can create!

Using simple objects at hand to pretend they are something else helps build a child’s imagination potential. What about an empty paper towel roll, a cardboard box, a towel, or a wooden block- what could they become in pretend play?

To face and solve problems as adults, our children need to be practice active imagination skills and creativity.  

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Frustration Tolerance, Part 2

by Beth Frook


There are several ways we humans (small and tall) respond to frustration.  Some depends on our basic temperament and personality, and some is a reflection of what we have seen modeled in our home environment. Here is a synopsis from Dr. Becky Bailey’s “Conscious Discipline” descriptions of four responses to frustrating situations.

“Flyers” fly off the handle when things don’t go their way.  They throw the blocks when the stack isn’t balancing, they hit their shoe when it won’t tie right away, or they scream out in frustration.

“Criers” dissolve into tears when unsuccessful after even one or two attempts at a new skill.

“Sighers” give up with a sigh and don’t do anymore, or move away from the problem.

“Tryers” keep trying and trying until they get results, through problem solving, self-correcting, or just plain pushing through.

As adults, we need to remember that we are safe in the situation, and that we CAN help the child with the problem. So, we take a deep breath, say to ourselves, “I’m safe, and I can help this child with the problem.” (S_T_A_R = Smile_Take a breath_And_Relax)  The adult in the situation is the model for problem-solving.  Depending on the child’s problem, and the way they are responding, we can help them learn to solve their own problems (first with our help, and eventually on their own.)

Moments like this are opportunities to teach our children to self-regulate, to problem solve and become persistent learners of new skills, increasing their tolerance for frustration as they learn and grow.

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Frustration Tolerance/Persistence/Emerging Independence

by Beth Frook


“If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.” -Aesop

Noah (2 1/2) stacks blocks, and the third or fourth one falls off repeatedly.

Amelia (3 1/2)  struggles to pull her sock over her heel and all the way on.

Jamie (1) wants something across the room, and can’t name it, so points and screams.

We’ve all been in the presence of a child who is struggling to learn something.  We’ve all BEEN in that position ourselves as learning adults, as well! (For me it usually has to do with new skills on my computer or smart phone! :))  It is through persistent trying and help from “experts” that allow us to master new skills and accomplish tasks.  The process can cause frustration, and we can increase our tolerance for frustration with practice and patience.  It is a character trait that helps us learn and grow!

Persistent practice, and a healthy level of tolerance for frustration are required as one builds skill.  We can support our children to learn and grow by allowing them to try new things, giving them time to practice and encouraging them to keep trying when they become frustrated.

“Can you try to balance the block in the middle, Noah?”

“Amelia, look!  You got it over your toes! How ’bout I hold this part and you pull that part over your heel?”

“Oh, is it the blue car you want to play with, Jamie? No? Can you show me which one? Let’s get closer.  The red car is what you want to play with!”

There are words to support and encourage that give space for learning to happen.  If we jump in too fast to “fix it” or do it for our child every time, we keep them from experiencing the satisfaction of trying hard and learning something.

The emerging independence that is within every child needs time and space to grow. Try to set aside time for practicing skills, or build in a cushion in your schedule for your child to be able to “do it myself!”  Try to resist the urge to jump in too soon.  Saving our child from that little bit of frustration while they practice new tasks can sometimes send a message that we don’t think they are capable.  Take a breath and use encouragement, or small suggestions to support them as they learn.

This skill will certainly serve them well as they face learning challenges through out their lives.

Next time, let’s talk about specific responses to frustration: Flyers, Cryers, Sighers and Tryers.

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Story time with music: Little Raccoon’s Big Question

Little Raccoon’s Big Question by Miriam Schlein and Ian Schoenherr

ISBN: 0-439-84935-7 LittleRaccoon

  1. Read the book and consider all the different activities we see Little Raccoon doing throughout his day.
  2. Rock to As The Sun Sinks Down
  3. Before or after rocking, optional art tie-in – draw a picture of a special time with a special person.

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how-to-sort-laundryby Sandy Yagel

As a young mom of four children 3 1/2 years old and under, I always felt like I was drowning in dirty laundry! Then I discovered a few tricks that not only helped me with the laundry, but also helped the children develop important skills.

In our bathroom, we had a space that held two laundry baskets at a time, one white and one brown. As the children took off their dirty clothes they would place them in the matching light or dark basket. This saved me a ton of time on the front end of doing laundry.

After doing laundry, I would save the socks for the children to sort. First we would match them by color and then by size. This type of sorting is a Kindergarten math skill! Not only did the children feel accomplished in the task and happy that they could help me, but their sorting actually DID help me with the task of laundry!

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