by Jennifer Sneeden

Making an invention is very difficult…

The first problem is that you might not know right away what you’re trying to invent. That means you’ll need to have lots of materials to choose from. And all those materials may feel a bit overwhelming because you don’t really know how they work together. You’ll be using all of your creative ability to imagine what your invention should be and which materials to use.

The second problem is that once you formulate an idea, the materials may not cooperate with you. This means you’ll need to use a lot of experimentation to test how to best use the materials to build your idea. You’ll be using all of your logical thinking and planning skills to problem solve along the way.

The third problem is that inventions are hard work. A piece won’t fit right, the design doesn’t hold up to your rigorous testing, or perhaps the image in your head doesn’t match what your hands have created. This means that you’ll have to use a lot of coordination and fine motor precision to create the invention you imagined.

The fourth problem is that inventions take a lot of time. This entire process emerges slowly. You need to take a break here and there: for a snack, to chat with a friend, to make a potty trip. Enough time must be allowed so that the process isn’t rushed. It unfolds. You’ll be using all of your concentration and persistence stick with it and see it through to completion.

How did I become such an expert on inventions? I learned it today from a promising group of inventors at Seedlings. My role as a Helper today was to hang out at the invention table while the kids were working. I spent most of my time just sitting back and watching them hard at work. I stepped in a few times… guiding reluctant pipe cleaners through foam blocks, holding pieces in place while they were taped down, helping resolve a dispute over who would get to use the last rectangular block.

The invention table was not the most popular spot of the morning, we only had about 6 serious inventors. Other kids stopped in briefly, but didn’t stick around to work. But of the serious inventors, 4 of them spent well over an hour working. The other two didn’t need as much time to finish their inventions, but they would cruise by throughout the morning to see what the others were doing.

My son Connor was a guest Seedling this morning. He was one of the serious inventors, which didn’t surprise me at all. Here he is showing off his invention: a Sword FF, the strongest weapon in the world. (It also didn’t surprise me that he built a weapon!)

Connor's Invention

Notice how carefully the tape is applied. He went through many iterations until he found the configuration strong enough to allow a foam sword to stand up to heavy battle. Not an easy feat!

It was such a pleasure to sit around the table with these children, watching them develop skills that will last a lifetime.

© Jennifer Sneeden and Sunflower Creative Arts, 2013

Jennifer Sneeden, PhD(c), LMFT, first connected with Sunflower two years ago, and is so grateful for the experiences she and her children have had through Susan and Sunflower. She’s a psychotherapist in private practice in Boca Raton. She shares her experiences as a mom and a therapist on her Facebook page at