Etymology: Often said to be a pictograph of a person with arms at side, looking small. However, this character is actually a representation of 3 small points.
The long middle stroke seems to represent the concept of one large item being divided into two smaller items.
Mnemonic: A STROKE DIVIDED INTO TWO SMALL ONES.
子犬 (koinu) puppy
小人 (kobito) dwarf / elf
小川 (ogawa) stream
(Based upon Henshall, 1998)