Please check the Penn State Health Guidelines page for the latest information about masking and the University’s ongoing COVID-19 response.

The Magic of Kids Corner

November is upon us and with it comes Kids Corner, filled with games, songs, crafts, stories, and even puppet shows! The excitement and unabashed curiosity of the young children in attendance is a constant delight, and makes me appreciate the exceptional beauty of simple things—a bit of construction paper and tape is soon transformed into a mouse, and nothing in the world could be better than chasing your friends in a circle on the snowy lawn.

Children too young to be in school gather in the Discovery Room, eager to share their ideas, bright eyes seeking the unknown. What a magical world kids lives in, and I think we learn as much from our young friends who come Wednesday mornings as they do from us. Take puppets for example. To anyone over the age of about six, a puppet is a stuffed animal given voice and action by the puppeteer. But to a child of three, a puppet is a new friend. Even if I’m sitting in full view while using the puppet, no connection between my voice and the puppet’s words is made. Have you ever seen a beaver speak? Probably not. But the children gathered at Kids Corner saw a beaver speak, and even sang a song with one! How fantastic.

Let’s take a look at a peanut butter jar with the willing wonder of a child’s gaze. Make enough PB & J sandwiches to use up the peanut butter, take the label off, wash out the jar, and what do you have? A Magical Really Cool Thing Finder. Gathered around Shaver’s Creek interns Louis and Zoey in the front yard, the children were impatient to use this new, special tool. Louis gave it a toss, and it went sailing over the lawn. Now, to an adult who has already categorized the “really cool” and the “not so really cool” things of the world, this might just be a peanut butter jar randomly thrown. But to a child, it’s magic and always finds something really cool—a really cool blade of grass, a really cool rock, or maybe a really cool newt. Whatever it may be, it is impartially contemplated, and the enthusiasm for one discovery versus another is equal. I wonder if it is possible to shed our preconceived ideas of what is “really cool” and what is “not so really cool” so as to participate in the equitable enthusiasm of children.

Animals have a special fascination for folks of all ages, but the giddy glee a child shows for animals is unparalleled. At Kids Corner last week, we held a turtle race, which is a bit ridiculous, especially when you choose a turtle to cheer on. But to the assembled group of youngsters, this was a serious sporting event, and watching the Wood Turtle and the Box Turtle look around, perplexed, was no deterrent. They clapped and giggled and lay on their bellies for a better view as the confused turtles moved towards the finish line in fits and starts. To be honest, it was hilarious, and why not cheer on a turtle as it makes its way across the hard wood floor in the same way we might cheer on a football team? To lose yourself in the simple delight of absurdity adds spice to life that we can all use.

Kids Corner may be for kids and their parents, but that doesn’t mean that those of us who don’t directly participate can’t catch the spirit of Kids Corner. Helping out with puppet shows and in other small ways for Kids Corner has reminded me of the magic of life. A fall leaf, the like of which I have seen hundreds of times, is reimagined by a child’s delight in it, a question I never thought to ask stumps me, a bit of milkweed fluff floating in a sunbeam becomes more precious than gold. I urge everyone to make an effort to look at the world, especially the natural world, through a child’s gaze. I suspect you will discover more delight and wisdom than you can imagine.

Kids Corner is FREE and open to the public for toddlers and pre-K children with an accompanying adult.  Check out our Kids Corner page for more information and the current schedule.