News & Politics

Best of Washington: Kid’s Stuff

Yoga for tots and teens; new children’s books; birthday parties that’ll wow the neighborhood; How new drivers can avoid highway spills.

Child’s Pose

Washington is hooked on yoga; even high-octane lawyers and politicians are unfurling their mats. Now some studios are catering to another segment of the population—children.

“Kids are natural yogis,” says Linda Feldman, a director at Budding Yogis (, a studio in Chevy Chase DC that offers classes for kids ages two and up as well as summer camps and birthday parties. “They respond to it like you wouldn’t believe.”

Feldman says yoga helps children build self-esteem, develop strength, and cope with stress. Plus, it’s fun. Kids’ yoga incorporates music, stories, and games. Squirming and fidgeting are allowed.

Adults can take part in family yoga sessions with kids ages two to ten. Parents can also head upstairs for a class at Circle Yoga, Budding Yogis’ grownup counterpart.

Two other local studios—Sun & Moon in Arlington and Fairfax ( and Willow Street Yoga in Takoma Park and Silver Spring (—also have a good selection of family and kids’ classes.

New Good Reads

We asked contributing editor Laura Elliott, author of young-adult historical fiction and picture books, to pick some of the season’s best new children’s books by local authors. Elliott’s most recent book is Hunter’s Big Sister, the third in a series starring little raccoons trying to cope with peer pressure, competition, and sibling quirks. Here are her choices for good reads:

For young adults, The Night Tourist by Katherine Marsh, managing editor of the New Republic. Combining elements of classical mythology and insider history of New York City, Marsh creates a compelling mystery as ninth-grader Jack Perdu enters a supernatural world beneath NYC’s subway.

For ages 9 to 12: Cover-Up by John Feinstein, NPR commentator and Potomac resident, is the third in a series of sports novels. Teenage reporters Steve Thomas and Susan Carol Anderson uncover another scandal, this time involving steroid use during the Super Bowl. And Katy Kelly’s Lucy Rose: Working Myself to Pieces and Bits is the fourth in this delightful series featuring a spirited narrator who has moved to Washington with her mother following her parents’ separation. This book adds a look at bullies to the series’ continuing themes of settling into a new home and the gift of extended family.

Picture Books: Pitching in for Eubie by Jerdine Nolen of Ellicott City offers a sweet look at how family members can help one another when Lily raises money to augment a college scholarship awarded her big sister, Eubie. Illustrations by Caldecott Honor artist E.B. Lewis.

Party Central

Had your fill of moon bounces and magicians? Here are some other party ideas.

Super scooping: Ages five and up—a woman just had a party for her 80th birthday—enter sugar heaven with this 90-minute tour of Gifford’s Ice Cream & Candy Co. factory in Silver Spring. For $350, a party for 12 includes a tour and hands-on ice-cream making, with tubs to test and take home. 800-708-1938 ext. 712;

Not your parents’ yellow school bus: A gutted school bus dubbed the Fun Bus has been padded, carpeted, and equipped with colorful gymnastics equipment for ages two to seven. The bus will come to your house, where groups of up to 15 can pile in for an hour of instructor-led tumbling ($279). The bus primarily serves Loudoun County and can accommodate other areas. 703-717-5405;

X marks the spot: If adventure on the high seas—or at least the Severn River—is your little pirate’s dream, set sail aboard the Sea Gypsy, a 40-foot powerboat turned pirate ship run by Pirate Adventures on the Chesapeake. This Annapolis outfit operates the ship from the third week of April through Halloween. Parties for ages four to nine start at $575 for up to 38 guests. Or pay $18 a person for smaller groups. 410-263-0002;

For rockers in training: Boogie to the “Dark Side of the Moon Bounce” and other favorites by Rocknoceros, a three-person group that brings a high-energy performance—think rock meets kindergarten—to your living room. You can check out the local band every Wednesday morning at Jammin’ Java in Vienna. Packages start at around $450 for a 45-to-60-minute show in your home. 703-899-8750; or

No-Crash Course

Parents of teens are the biggest cheerleaders for Drive2Survive, a nonprofit program that trains new and experienced drivers to deal with challenging conditions on the road. Students experience split-second braking, abrupt lane-changing, skidding, and other potential perils of the highway. The program, run by Eric Espinosa, a 20-year veteran of the DC police department and a police driving instructor, is offered at three locations—RFK Stadium, Patuxent River Naval Air Station, and Sykesville Driver Training Facility—at least twice a month. It’s geared to drivers 15 to 21 years old. The eight-hour sessions cost $200. 301-515-0539;

Healthy Dogs

Will kids turn up their noses at healthier hot dogs? Once they got past the appearance—turkey and chicken dogs are more taupe than ballpark-red—our panel of experts found many to be pretty tasty. All of the dogs were nitrite-free.

Top picks: Turkey seemed to be the favorite beef alternative: Kids loved the turkey dogs from Wellshire Farms ($3.69 at Whole Foods), Applegate Farms ($3.19 at Trader Joe’s), and Whole Ranch ($3.69 at Whole Foods).

Other good choices: Meatless Smart Dogs ($3.49 at Giant, $2.49 at Wegmans) were one taster’s first pick, but others called them “just okay.” Everyone liked the chicken dogs from Whole Ranch ($3.69 at Whole Foods) and Wellshire Kids ($3.99 at Whole Foods).

Skip ’em: All three soy options from Yves finished at the bottom. Kids called them “rubbery” and said they “wouldn’t eat this again”—even with lots of mustard and ketchup.