Steffi Jung, 14, of Silver Spring wore her pajamas to bed inside out.

And Sabrina Pampillonia, 11, of Northwest Washington did her special snow dance -- think 1960s go-go moves to a chant of: "Let it snow! Let it snow! Let it snow!"

But as they and other children in the region turned to superstition to conjure up a school-shutting snowstorm Wednesday night, Abigail Hollinger, 9, of Northwest Washington tried a more logical approach.

"Pleeease," she begged her father, Daniel Hollinger, who happens to be principal of Rock Creek International School, where Abigail is in the fourth grade. "Don't open school tomorrow. We haven't had a snow day in soooo long."

Yesterday morning, the children awoke to find that their hopes had been realized: The Washington area was blanketed in blissful powder, and officials in the District and its suburbs declared schools closed.

Spelling tests, math quizzes and homework were out. Sledding, snow angels and Internet surfing were in.

So it was that at 8:30 a.m., instead of poring over a science textbook, Abigail flipped through shopping catalogues. At 9:30, rather than dissecting an animal in biology class, she got to pummel her brother with snowballs in their back yard. And at 10:30, with no fraction worksheets to labor through, she indulged in hot cocoa and a special sour cream coffeecake her mother bakes only on snow days. Then it was off to the park for an afternoon of sledding with her parents.

"It's been a wonderful day," Daniel Hollinger said. "We're so lucky we could spend it together,"

Not all parents had that option. With the federal government invoking its liberal leave policy -- a day off gets charged against vacation time -- and a large number of area offices open for business, many parents chose to take their children to work rather than take the day off.

"I live too close to use the snow as an excuse," said Jean Flannery, office manager at Re/Max Olympic Realty in Manassas, who brought daughters Beth, 12, and Jessica, 14, to the office.

A co-worker, Laura Damico, laughed in agreement as she watched her 4-year-old son, Jake -- whose Fairfax preschool was closed -- race along the office hallway. "My choices were bringing him with me or bringing him with me," she said.

The potential for whining was high. But owner Bill Galbraith hit on a solution -- putting the children to work decorating the office Christmas tree.

That done, the three pint-size temps moved on to the doors and walls. "We put these up," said Beth Flannery, pointing proudly to a door festooned with blue ribbons.

At the Georgetown office of ZDF, a German television network, Hildrun Rowe's son Luke, 9, was in no danger of boredom as he sampled games on the Internet. "The computers at my mom's job are so much faster than our computer at home," he said excitedly. And for lunch, he got an extra treat: a trip to a Japanese restaurant.

"It's been a very a good day," he said with a grin.

Meanwhile, not all parents who stayed home with their children were grateful.

By 8:30 a.m., Sonja Heisterkamp's 5-year-old daughter, Anna, had already tired of playing in the snow. "She had been out there since 7 a.m.," said Heisterkamp, of Northwest Washington. "So it was like, okay, that was fun, but now what are we going to do?"

After spending a lot of time indoors in October, when sniper attacks spread fear across the region, "we've run out of indoor activities prematurely," Heisterkamp said. "We've already drawn every picture there is to draw, made Christmas cards for everyone we know, and baked enough cookies to feed the starving. It's going to be a long day."

Others couldn't get enough of being outdoors.

"Don't tell anyone about this spot," pleaded Denise Price, a federal worker, as son Damian, 4, coasted down the slopes at La Plata's Hawthorne Country Club. "Everyone will start coming here."

It was easy to see why. From the high hill behind the clubhouse, Price surveyed a winter wonderland of gently rolling hills dotted by snow-topped tobacco barns and farmhouses. Then she watched as Damian launched himself down the steep drop with a soft whoosh. As he slid to a stop near a stand of trees, Price called out for him to walk back up the hill. Damian didn't reply.

So she sent an older friend, Ray Slack, 14, to get him.

"He won't come," Ray called back. "He wants me to bury him in the snow."

In Loudoun County, the Huber family was trying something new. With three sons and no sled, Dan Huber, 42, of Leesburg decided to build one yesterday morning.

He started with two wooden skis screwed to a few wooden boards. Then he mounted a tire inner tube to the base with duct tape.

The result did not look pretty next to the brightly colored, canoelike sleds used by many youngsters. But it was easily the fastest sled on the hills on the George Washington University campus.

"I think it might be too fast," Huber muttered as he watched one of his sons' friends, James Murphy, 13, make a dizzying descent. "And it's hard to stop. We've got to drag our feet on the ground so we don't crash."

James seemed unaware of that technique. "Look out! Look out!" he yelled as he barely missed a girl on a sled, swept past a dog and landed with a thud against a lamppost.

The other children ran down to inspect the damage. "The duct tape's falling off," said one. "Yeah, it doesn't look so good," said another.

But when they kicked the tube, it stayed firmly on the base.

They picked up the sled and trudged up the hill for another run.

U.S. House pages -- high school students from all over the country -- celebrate being released from work with a snow fight outside the Library of Congress.John Roper, 13, of Ashburn slides down a slope in his neighborhood. Some youngsters went to the office with parents who couldn't take a day off.In Waldorf, Brigette Robb, 11, and Maria Flaim, 16, build a tunnel in the snow. But they have already made good their escape from school.