How to Capture the Now with a Time Capsule

If I had a time capsule when I was a kid, it would have contained roller skates, Chuck-e-Cheese tokens, my Swatch Watch, my New Kids on the Block t-shirt, a mixed tape of Whitney Houston’s greatest hits, and a scrunchie…and I’m super bummed I don’t have one to open. But my kids can, and so can yours!

Pick a day, a 2-hour time block, set out some cookies, gather the family and supplies and capture a moment in time. You can buy a Time Capsule Kit like we did, or you can create your own.


The Kit

Time capsule kits are so convenient and cute – and you can buy one per child or one for the family and just make copies. There is no preparation with a kit, and it’s a big return for the investment you are making. You can even choose to add to it (see list below) to make it more robust, or stick with the directions.

Do it Yourself!

If you just want to make your own simple time capsule, consider including some of these items:

  • A container: lunch box, plastic container, large thermos – metal if you are burying it
  • A letter each person writes to themselves about their hopes for their own future, what they want to have learned about life, a talent that they hope to develop. Give them markers and stickers to decorate their letters.
  • A list of major events that are happening right now
  • A letter from someone special to them – their parent, their sibling, a grandparent (it can be emailed from an extended family member or friend)
  • A list of predictions
  • A piece of artwork made by each person (drawing, water color, etc.) – check out our Art Studio blog post that will tell you how to set up your Art Studio.
  • An “About Me” list (we make these at the beginning of the school year – if you do this too, you can just photocopy it and put it in) – favorite songs, movies, color, books, etc.
  • A small object or two that they treasure but can agree to part with – this one is tricky since you don’t want this to be a hard or sad experience for your children. Walk them through this part and help them find an appropriate object they can part with. Label the object with a little tag as to why it was chosen and whose it was.
  • A fictional story written by each person
  • A joke made up by each person
  • For those gift-givers and handicrafters, a homemade gift to give their future selves like a homemade necklace, coaster, potholder, wooden carving, etc.
  • Make a list of items like a gallon of milk, box of their favorite cereal, a typical toy that will still be around in 5-10 years and write how much they cost right now.

The possibilities are endless. Now you just have to pick when you get to open it – in one year? In 5 years? In 10 years? In 6,000 years? (There is an actual capsule crypt scheduled to open in about 6,000 years from now!)

For Teens

I ordered another resource from Amazon that might be helpful to those who have teens or even for those parents who want to prepare a time capsule for their children to be opened throughout their life: the Time Capsule Letters.


This book provides the letters for different topics such as for when they are grieving, for a future Valentine’s day, for a future birthday, and more. There are letters from parents and letters from children to complete. It’s a neat way to make sure your heart is shared throughout your children’s lives, even if you are not around.

Educational Component

Besides being awesome family time, this memory-making activity can really be a big teachable moment. 

  • For young ones, this is a great way to introduce telling time and the passage of time. Show them a calendar and what an entire year looks like, and then figure out how many months five years will be. How old will they be when you get to open your family capsule? You can talk about words meaning “Past” – like yesterday, a month ago, a year ago, and then do the same with the word “Future” – like tomorrow, next week, next year.
  • You can teach letter writing to your readers and writers, with the “Dear Self,” type greetings, and share the difference between the “Sincerely” vs. “Love,” salutations. Think about the person reading the letter, their “audience,” and what their future self would want to read about. You can work on spelling, grammar, etc. 
  • This is a great time to introduce the concept of inflation. Discuss how the changing value of money and its effect on the cost of goods. Go back to your list of current prices mentioned above and look at those products and what they cost when their grandparents were born and when you were born. Then, have your kids guess what those goods will cost when their capsule is opened, and write that on their sheet. You can even have them perform calculations using a 2.5% or 3% inflation rate or just make a willy nilly guess. 
  • Those who love history, might find it super interesting to research and report on historical time capsules and their contents. 
  • For literature consider starting a read-aloud (check out our blog post on the Magic of the Read-Aloud) prior to or after the time capsule activity.  Books like Rip Van Winkle, by Washington Irving, or A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeleine L’Engle, or others you can find by searching “Time Travel Books” online. Check Common Sense Media to ensure the book fits with your children’s maturity level and age. If your family has already read C.S. Lewis’s Narnia series, you can discuss the elements of the passage of time while the Pevensie children lived in Narnia.
  • Want to integrate character development? Discuss going back in time and changing a decision you have made or how you would have acted differently in a particular situation. Modeling ways you could have acted differently might prompt your little ones to evaluate their own lives too. Also, ask your child, “What are good ways to spend your time?” Discussion about using time well, and what it means to each person to spend our time well  will give you windows into your children’s hearts and what matters to them. Take notes and make sure you do those activities with them. Those who are Bible readers can read Ecclesiastes 3, “For everything there is a season,” and then discuss how God uses these times to grow us, nurture us, challenge us, and change us.


Movies are a fun relaxing way to put a cap on your time capsule activity. Kids might enjoy the movie versions of books listed above, and teens might like movies such as Groundhog’s day, Back to the Future, or Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure. What I love about Bill and Ted’s journey is that they are actually creating a time capsule (rated age 11 on Common Sense Media but there’s much more mature content than you may expect or remember).

However you decide to utilize the time capsule and potential educational moments is up to you. It can be a simple fun family time, or a time of deep discussion and academics, or both! Most importantly, enjoy. Make it a time that is captured. Make it the “One Moment in Time” that communicates to your children what Whitney Houston sings in her epic song, “I will always love you.”

What would you put in your time capsule?

Originally appeared on and reposted with author permission.

About the Writer:

Mandi McArthur has an MA in Education, is the Co-Founder of The Coop Homeschool, and is happily homeschooling three children.


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