Long Christmas vacation days, kids in tow, what to do? One cultural solution could be to take them to a show at Adams Morgan Children's Theatre. But don't go expecting spoon feeding unless you count the cookies and juice served between shows. This popular new theater is gaining a reputation for stretching the minds of its young audiences while entertaining them. In "St. George and the Dragon," a medieval tale told in rhyme, the language is beautiful but a tad advanced.

"It's a great vocabulary exercise, and the action is so clear that the kids pick up the odd word from the context," says Catherine Lee Probus, cofounder and director of the Children's Theatre, who believes, "If you talk down to kids it can be fatal ... they see it every time."

The constant laughter leaves little doubt as to their level of understanding. It may help that the plays -- at about 15 minutes each -- are just the right length. (The other selection on the program is "The Pie and the Tart.") And that the kids have one of their own in the cast -- the dragon is played by four-foot-tall, 7-year-old Chris Newman, a pupil at Woodside Elementary School. The program has been selling out during its three-week run.

On a recent Saturday, the 25-seat house above a dental clinic at 2108 18th St. NW was filled with the members of Girl Scout Troop 1498 from Silver Spring. The girls are working on their theater badge, and for many this was their first exposure to the mechanics of putting on a show.

"We run on a shoestring, but we do the best we can," says Probus. Because the Adams-Morgan rents are expensive for the small theater, it is looking for a new space. The theater is negotiating with Georgetown's International School.

For the final holiday weekend, shows will be presented at 1:30 and 3:30 on Saturday and Sunday afternoons. Tickets are $5. For more information call 232-7685.

Phillips Staff Show The Phillips Collection's annual James McLaughlin Memorial Staff Show offers a respite from the dreary holiday lines at the larger museums. Many of the curators, researchers and managers of the Phillips are also artists, and their work will be on display through Sunday at the Susan Conway Gallery at 1058 Thomas Jefferson St. NW in Georgetown. The gallery is open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Prison Photographers A group of women basketball players, smiling for the camera, is just one of the surprisingly joyful pictures in the exhibit "Behind Prison Bars: Women Take Pictures," at the Firebird Gallery in Alexandria through Jan. 23.

The photos were taken by inmates at the D.C. Detention Facility during a course at the Lorton Photography Workshop last summer.

Representing Sculptors Looking for a sculpture for your company's lobby, to go on top of your town's civic center or just something simple for your garden? The International Sculpture Center's answer to computer dating, Sculpture Source uses a video disc system to link clients with a registry of thousands of sculptors and their work.

"There are certainly other lists of available sculptors, but none that uses the visual image and that offers such detail about the work," says Nina Ozlu, director of operations for the Sculpture Center, who adds that the agency was getting requests for the service even before its official launching on Dec. 14.

Emerging Artists Area artists who work on paper may apply for support from the Mid-Atlantic Arts Foundation. Interested candidates may submit an application form, slides and current re'sume's. To request an application package, call (301) 539-6656. ...

And the Funding Center in Old Town Alexandria would like to hear from artists in the Washington area interested in having their works exhibited in office spaces. Those interested should submit no more than 12 works, color slides or prints. For further information, call 683-0000.