Make a Time Capsule with Your Family

Time capsules are an interesting way to engage a child’s critical thinking, engineering, recordkeeping, and historical recording. They can also be a great way to spark discussions about family history and the effects of the present on the future. Best of all, they can be easily accomplished in an hour or two, and you can be as in-depth or as simple with them as you want. Simply follow these basic steps for an afternoon of fun making a time capsule with your family.

1. Start with a plan, keeping in mind your desired audience, contents, and duration.
Who you want the recipient to be will determine how long your time capsule should be stored and what types of things you want to put in it. Who will open the capsule? Do you want your family to open it in 5 years or when your kids are grown? A fun idea is to have your young child create a time capsule and open it at graduation.

2. Collect the contents.
Your audience and duration can help you decide what should go in here. Ask your kids, “If you were opening a time capsule from 100 years ago, what would you want to be in it?” Letters written to the future are always a good idea, as well as current newspaper articles, family photos, and special event invitations. You could also choose objects that depict the state of the world like an old cellphone or some popular technology.

3. Choose a storage spot.
If your capsule will be buried outside, it will have to be in a spot that you will have access to in the future. If you store it inside, pick somewhere out of the way like an attic or dry basement. These factors will determine what kind of container to use. For example, if you’re storing it inside, use a suitcase, a cardboard box, or an old coffee can. If you want to bury it outside, the container needs to be watertight. Consider an aluminum coffee can or a piece of PVC pipe that can be sealed.

4. Seal your container and store it or bury it.
If it will be stored inside, seal it with tape or consider a combination lock with a clue to add an element of mystery for the future opener. Write the current date, as well as the date it should be opened on the outside. Consider making an inventory of all the items with the current date to seal inside the capsule as well.

5. Designate a capsule keeper.
Choose someone whose job it is to keep track of the capsule and remember it if you move. This can be done by putting a yearly reminder with a countdown on a calendar or phone.

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