Parents, do you wonder how you can help your children succeed in school, at home, and beyond, or encourage them to be resilient and self-confident in overcoming challenges? When it comes to such success, mindset plays an important part. That’s what educators Mary Cay Ricci and Margaret (Meg) Lee have written about in their new book Mindsets for Parents: Strategies to Encourage Growth Mindsets in Kids.
mindsets-200x300Mary Cay is an education consultant, speaker, and author of the New York Times best-selling education title, Mindsets in the Classroom and its companion book, Ready-to-Use Resources for Mindsets in the Classroom. Meg has been a teacher, professional learning specialist, and school administrator for the past 2o years.
Over at Dancing Bear we’re excited to be hosting a free book signing and author talk with Mary Cay and Meg on May 22 at 4 p.m. Before that, though, we had a chance to ask the co-authors a few questions about their book, which was just released this May.

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We all know the importance of both art and science in a child’s education. But instead of keeping them separate, combining the two subjects with fun activities can be an exciting and beneficial way for children to learn something new about both.

Combining art and science is a great way to incorporate hands-on activities into any curriculum or activity. By integrating creativity with experimentation, kids will have endless opportunities to explore the world around them.

We’ve gathered some ways that you can supplement what your child is learning in school with these fun and easy activities they can do at home.

For even more activities, don’t miss our Art and Science Summer Camps beginning in June for ages 5–7 and 8­–11. Register here on our events page!


Back in Time


Make a sundial — Without smart phones and Apple watches how did people ever tell time?! Show your kids how they can keep track of time the old fashioned way with the sun and its shadows by making a sundial.

NileRiverBuild the Nile River — This is probably one of the coolest projects kids can do to learn about agriculture, natural resources, and ancient societies. Re-create the Nile River on a small scale in a tin cake pan or on a large scale in your back yard!

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Because the Dancing Bear is a battery-free toy store, it’s safe to say that we have some pretty unique toys. But it’s not just the toys that are unique. The toy companies behind these products are, too.

These days the toy industry isn’t just about making great products for kids; it’s about making a social and ethical impact on the world. Here are three of those companies that we love because of their open-ended, make-a-difference toys (all of which you can find at the Bear!). [click to continue…]



Reading, writing, and…rolling? When we approach teaching children literacy, we usually don’t think of rolling around as something educational. However, when it comes to literacy skills, movement is a key element. In fact there are multiple links between movement and literacy, and some great benefits, too (which we’re sharing below). [click to continue…]


Before babies begin to speak it can be somewhat frustrating for parents to understand what their baby wants or needs. If only we could read our babies’ minds or somehow understand what they mean when they point and say, “Eeh.” Instead of trying to telepathically communicate with your little one, however, there is a simpler way to help you and your baby understand each other through American Sign Language. [click to continue…]


New Faces at the Bear

by admin on January 19, 2016

During the past couple of weeks you may have noticed a few new faces at Dancing Bear — Emily and Olivia!  Since they were brave enough to jump right in during the craziness of the holiday season, we thought they’ve at least earned a proper introduction…and a cool name tag. So, take a few minutes to get to know the newest members of the Bear family!


Emily loves Squishables - especially this cupcake!

Emily is a fantastic addition to the Bear with her background in merchandising and working with children. She started out helping us at the Holiday Market and has now embraced the role of Master Window Decorator. You can see her handiwork in the store windows.

Tell us a little about your background and what led you to the Bear family.

“After graduating from West Virginia University with a bachelor’s in Fashion Merchandising I moved to Orlando, Florida, to intern at Walt Disney World. I spent two and a half years in Florida, and it was there that I decided my true passion lies in working with children. I decided to move back home to Frederick, and I have just been accepted to Mount Saint Mary’s graduate program for education. The Dancing Bear is a combination of everything I love about retail and children’s learning.” 

If you could be a Disney princess, which one would you be?

“Ariel! I would love to be a mermaid, and Prince Eric is a total dreamboat.”

What do you love about downtown Frederick?

“I grew up going to school in Downtown Frederick, so it has always been a special place for me. I love the small town feel and the vast opportunities to explore different cultures, cuisines, and shopping.”

What’s your favorite toy at the Bear? (It’s hard to pick just one, so if you have multiple that’s okay.)  

“I absolutely love Tenzi and Spot It! The Squishables are pretty cute too.”

What are your top three life dreams or goals?

“Become an Elementary school teacher. Have my own children and family. To keep a childlike, magical view on life.”

Any hidden talents? 

“I can quote most of the lines from Matilda. I used to watch it on repeat in my VCR player growing up.” 

What do you like most about being part of the Bear?

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At Dancing Bear we love to celebrate all things new, like the New Year and your new toys (hopefully some are from the Bear!). But now that the holidays are over and the kiddos are back in school, the glamour of those new toys might be fading — although Tom, our semi-retired owner, is still pretty excited about his new coffee maker in the office.

So what happens when that “new toy glamour” fades? How can parents be reassured that children will want to play with their toys all throughout the year? [click to continue…]


Get Your Game On

by admin on November 28, 2014

Picture this…

Presents are opened, and the buzzing and ringing of all those must-have, heavily-marketed toys begin to slow. Sitting in your “comfy chair,” you reach down and grab one of the games that was hurriedly unwrapped and tossed in the “I’ll look at this later pile.” You read the directions, set up the playing area, and say “Hummm, pretty cool.” Next thing you know, the family has gathered around and you’re all playing the game together and having a great time.

This story mirrors what we hear at the Bear every year. With that in mind, we’ve prepared a list of our Not So Famous But Really Fun Games that our staff – and many of our customers – wholeheartedly recommend.

Tenzi:  Each player rolls 10 dice at a time in this fast-paced game. The goal is to keep rolling your dice, as fast as you can, until they all show the same number. Guaranteed laughter and mayhem!

Ooga Booga: The memory game you’ll never forget! Players add cards to a chain of other cards, following the clues and reciting the chain with no mistakes. Aooga-booga_gamer-1s the voices of “the tribe” (i.e. other players) rise into a side-splitting song, whoever has the sharpest memory becomes the new chief.

Trigger: Two words…two hands…too much fun. If the statement you read on your card is true, raise your right hand. If it’s false, raise your left hand. Definitely not as easy as it sounds!

Pyramix: Here’s your chance to deconstruct an Egyptian pyramid. Each piece has a symbol, which gives you differing point values. The symbols’ colors can add up to even more points. Play one round or 10 rounds…but beware the dreaded cobra!

Qwirkle: Matching colors and shapes is simple enough for younger players to enjoy, but older players will also love this game’s tactical maneuvers and strategy. It’s like Scrabble and Rummy combined! Earn points by creating rows and columns that share a common shape or color. Use six matching tiles and you’ve got yourself a Qwirkle!

These are just a few of our favorites. Stop by for more ideas and demonstrations on how to play!



Holiday Market for Kids…Back by Popular Demand

by admin on November 17, 2014

It’s hard to tell who’s missed our Holiday Market more…the kids who shopped there in years past, or the Toy Man himself, Tom England!

The Holiday Market we launched more than a decade ago evolved from one of Tom’s favorite childhood memories: visiting Thalhimer’s department store in Richmond before Christmas. In addition to meeting the Snow Queen (and Rudolph!), he has fond memories of going through a kid-sized door into a ‘secret’ shop just for children. There he bought special gifts for his mom and dad and grandparents. He can’t remember what the gifts were, but the experience was magical, he says. (We soooooo wish we had some photos to share!)

Of course, we don’t have a Snow Queen…or a kid-sized door…but we hope our Holiday Market for Kids (located in the activity room at Dancing Bear) is magical nonetheless. We’ve really missed offering this special holiday shop the last couple of years and are so excited to be ‘bringing it back.’ The Holiday Market will be open from December 13 to 23 from 10:00 am-5:00 pm Monday-Saturday and from Noon-5:00 pm Sunday.

At the Holiday Market, young shoppers can find something special for family, friends, and teachers. They can shop ‘in secret’ with the help of Dancing Bear staff, or with a family member’s assistance. As in previous years, all products are $10 and under, and the selection is exclusively Fair Trade…no plastic tchotchkes here.

Please plan a visit to our Holiday Market for Kids this year, and help us spread the word to others who might be interested. Thanks as always for shopping local and supporting Dancing Bear and other Downtown Frederick merchants!



‘Tis the season for FUN…and we’ve got plenty of opportunities for you to put some more play in your holidays! Hope you can join us for one–if not ALL–of these upcoming events.

All Grown-Up Night
Thursday, November 20 –  7:00-9:00 pm

Need to shop without little eyes watching? Ready for an evening out with adult friends—and adult beverages? Join us for this fun annual event with a great purpose: 20% of the evening’s sales will benefit Frederick County Students Homelessness Initiative Partnership (SHIP). Click here to learn more about SHIP and the outstanding work they’re doing in our community. Ages 21 years & up; Free; No registration required.

Meet Junie B. Jones!
Saturday, November 22 –  1:00-2:00 pm

Enjoy a meet-and-greet with the one and only Junie B. Jones from the Maryland Ensemble Theatre’s upcoming performance of “Jingle Bells, Batman Smells.” All ages; Free; No registration required.

Winnie-the-Pooh Story Time
Thursday, December 4 – 10:30-11:00 am

Winnie-the-Pooh, Eeyore, and Rabbit from Other Voices Theatre share a very special holiday story time and talk about their upcoming performance of “A Winnie-the-Pooh Christmas Tail.” Ages 2 years & up; Free; No registration required.

First Saturday Snowflake Making Activity
Saturday, December 6 – 3:00-6:00 pm
Stop by and create unique paper snowflakes to take home. Ages 3 years & up; Free; No registration required.

15th Annual Santa Celebration 
Thursday, December 11 – 6:00-8:00 pm
Children of all ages are invited to join us for a truly magical evening with the man in red. All ages; Free; No registration required.

Back by popular demand! Dancing Bear’s Holiday Market For Kids

One of our favorite holiday traditions is back…and conveniently located in the Bear’s activity room! Young shoppers can find something special for family, friends, and teachers at this seasonal kids-only holiday shop. As in years past, all products are $10 and under, and the selection is exclusively Fair Trade. The Holiday Market will be open December 13 to 23 from 10:00 am-5:00 pm Monday-Saturday and from Noon-5:00 pm Sunday.