Invention Box

Posted on June 29, 2014

 Invention Box: The best invention I added to our daily routine.

There are days when I need 30 minutes to myself. Quietly. To do a few things I need to do. Like write this post for you.

For my children, I have a few high priorities. The first is definitely that they know the love that God and their parents have for them. The next is that they know their potential! I want my kids to know I believe in them. I believe they can create from within their own heart, soul, and mind. I want to be intentional about filling their hearts and minds with the belief that they can change the world!

I also do not believe in always doing FOR our children. I believe in facilitating the inventive spirit they already have! This is a HUGE passion of mine. I cannot hold their life forever. I can light a spark, but they must carry their own flame. I want to inspire them to think, create, be themselves – not a copy of me.

How could I combine all these prayers of my heart into one little box? It came to me one day and we created – The Invention Box!

invention box
Inside this little box is a spark that can change a child’s heart and our world – forever

 The Bigs were maybe 3 & 5 when I started doing this invention box. Now it is part of our family. They wrote the words Invention Box on it SO long ago and I cannot believe how much they have changed since I began doing this activity at home.

invention box creativity
Self-confidence, critical thinking, inventive spirit, courage, persistence – these are traits that I cannot buy my children. They must develop them individually.

As a teacher it is a passion of mine to develop the actual heart, mind, and inventive spirit of the child. So many times parents think they should be investing in expensive toys, learning programs, or the best “apps.” I tell them – let your kids create an Invention Box. Come back to me in a few weeks and tell me what you see.

Here is what I see:

Critical Thinking


Confidence with Unknown Elements


Inventive Spirit




Communication Skills

Confidence with Presenting

Pride in Accomplishment

The Visionary Skill = I Can Create Something From Nothing 

Love of Science, Engineering, Art, and Invention

These are just to name a few!

invention box
Never underestimate the power of allowing your children to do for themselves what they can only dream of at first. I am a visionary. They can be too. But not through my eyes. That makes a copy. I want them to have their own dreams.

1) What goes in it?

Variety of building textures: cardboard, fabrics, safe metals, papers, jars, and containers.

Old electronic parts like computer keyboards, old walkie talkies, monitors etc (batteries removed for choking safety).

Tape: at least 3 different kinds of  duct tape, fabric tape, or electrical tape etc.

Pair of child scissors for each child. 

NO GLUE (that was a bad outcome 😉 

Blunt bars, soft wires, or sponges = as many different safe building items you can find around the house.

Don’t feel like you need to go and buy items! That defeats the whole purpose. There are so many supplies you have in your home and garage that will work. For inventing, it can be items the children see every day BUT you are letting them create a NEW VISION for how to use them. That is the gift of invention. 

2) What are the Rules?

We have 1 rule: *** You may invent ANYTHING using anything in the box as long as you clean it ALL up when you are done. ** 

That is IT. I am telling you. Do not doubt your children. They have made the hugest messes and cleaned them ALL up because they do not want to lose Invention Box Time.

3) What do we do with the inventions when finished? 

For the actual invention: we keep the inventions for a few days, and then decide to disassemble it, repurpose it, or recycle it so they can invent a new one.

4) When do we do Invention Box?

We keep the box in a cabinet. They can ONLY have access to it when: I need to do an important phone call, during “special time” (see our homeschool schedule here), or when they have earned it and ask for it! Most of the time if they ask for it, I say YES!

Putting it all together: A real life example
Putting it all together: A real life example

Real Scenario:

One time they were at most 3 and 5 and created a “web” from yarn that stretched the entire living room and it was a “web that could catch real people.” I asked how it worked and they had members of the family stand at different parts of the web. We discuss their inventions and talk about how it would be implemented in real life, being CREATIVE. 

Then, I make real life applications, for example, “Did you know that in technology we have computer networks that actually catch people / connect people through something called an internet? It is a way to build networks and circles of people that are connected by streams of data and coding patterns.” Your invention reminds me of the connections needed between people around the world!

After making the connection I affirm them! For example, “Wow! Your web that you designed could be used as the plans for a software invention!” I get super excited every time we do Invention Box because it is a reflection of their hearts and what is on their mind.

Nothing I buy them can give them what I have watched develop in their minds and hearts since I started doing the Invention Box. 

Before long, I saw my girls start inventing everywhere, not just in the box. It became a lens through which they process the world. What a gift we as parents can watch unfold when we let go, and let inventive spirit fly!

Play is a child's work. It is the framework for which they learn to process their world.
Play is a child’s work. It is the framework for which they learn to process their world.

 If you do an inventive activity, will you please share it with me? I LOVE hearing about children’s inventions!


Author Joy Brownlee. Written and Photography copyrights
to Joy Brownlee @ for the photos bearing Joy's watermark.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *