Time capsule ideas: What to include and how to plan

Time capsules can be a delightful activity to do with your children. From the assembly of the capsule to burying it to the unearthing of it, your kids can enjoy themselves and add perspective to their lives.

When making a time capsule for children, include long-lasting keepsakes and photographs that they will remember in a few months or a few years time. Choose items that have significance to your kids, and encase everything in quality envelopes and seals in order to preserve the contents.

Here’s a summary of everything that you should- and shouldn’t- include in a time capsule to make the activity as memorable as possible.

Time Capsule

Time Capsules

A time capsule is a container that is filled with a selection of items that either are significant now or that you expect to be significant in the future. Some time capsules are buried with no intention for the original creator to reopen them.

These long-term capsules are designed to lay undisturbed for decades until they are unearthed. Other time capsules are buried for just a couple of years and are meant to be opened by the person that made them, providing a fun experience where they can remember who they were a few years ago. This nostalgic memory trip is fun for many people.

When making a time capsule with kids, the second method will probably provide the most enjoyment. Kids will be able to collect items that they want to add to the capsule and have all the fun of sealing and burying the capsule. In all likelihood, they will forget all about the capsule and what they put into it after just a year or two and the unearthing of the capsule can offer a big payoff once the wait is over.

Time Capsule Containers

You can make a time capsule out of a variety of containers. Large water bottles and thermos containers have airtight seals, which is ideal for a short-lived capsule. If you have a metal box of some sort, that can also be perfect as the metal will not corrode or decompose quickly. Do not use wooden boxes, as the wood will rot under the soil. Waterproof containers are a must in case the capsule has to survive flooding.

Writing notes for a family time capsule

Items To Include

When constructing a time capsule with your kids, let each of them choose what to include. The time capsule will be most significant if it includes items that have meaning to your children. Maybe they can include an old stuffed animal that they liked when they were younger, or maybe a piece of plastic jewelry. You could have them draw or paint a picture that they could include so that they can reflect back on how they drew.

Another good thing to include in a time capsule for children is a letter or a message from their past self to their future self. Such letters will eventually provide interesting insights into how they thought when they were younger. It can also help your children to think forward to the future, analyzing what life will be like for them in a couple of years.

You could invite them to think about what problems they might be facing when the time capsule is opened and see if the kids have any counsel to give their future selves.

You can also include memorable photos of the children, their friends, their teachers at school, and anything else that will spark memories. Everything that you include should be wrapped and sealed in plastic bags and envelopes to best preserve the contents. Keep papers and photos separated by pieces of paper or plastic to prevent damage.

Time Capsule

Items Not To Include

When making a time capsule, there are a few things that you will not want to include. The most obvious thing for you to avoid would be food of any kind. You can never be perfectly sure how the food will turn out under the circumstances- it could damage the other contents or attract insects into your capsule.

You can, however, include the wrapping or packaging of your children’s favorite snacks to help remind them of their favorite foods.

Another material to avoid while collecting a time capsule is rubber. Things like rubber bands can snap after enough time, so they are unreliable for a time capsule.

Also avoid staples and paperclips, which can rust and corrode easily. Be careful when adding clothes and other textiles, as they can suffer harm when packed away for a number of years. Keep them wrapped and sealed in plastic, and make sure that the materials are cleaned and pressed before being locked away.

If you include items that have a risk of decomposition (like leather) make sure that those items are isolated from the rest of the capsule and sealed inside of the plastic. If one item in a capsule begins to deteriorate, it could cause everything that it is touching to quickly fall apart as well, even if those items would usually last a good deal longer.

Making a Time Capsule

Planning For The Time Capsule

When your capsule is finally ready to be buried, there are a few plans that you should make for when you will unearth it. First of all, seal the capsule and write the date that it is intended to be opened on the outside. Take a picture of your time capsule so that when you get it back, you can compare the two items to see how it has changed.

Find a way to remind yourself about the time capsule by the day that it is intended to be opened. You can do this by putting it on a schedule or rigging an alarm to remind you the day before.

Most time capsules are buried underground in order to keep them out of sight and out of mind. Your kids can help you dig the hole in the garden or in some other place where the capsule won’t be disturbed. Make it deep enough so that no one will run into it by accident, and make sure that you remember well where the capsule is. You could even make something of a treasure map that will lead you to the location once the time is ready to open the capsule.

Once the capsule is sealed and in the ground, your work is done! Simply wait a few years to reap the rewards of the effort you put in.

Burying a time capsule

Mary Jane Duford

Mary Jane is a Mom and digital content creator from the Okanagan Valley.

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