How to Build a COVID-19 Time Capsule with the Kids

In an instant, life as we know it changed—for everyone. Daily routines are interrupted. Social—even extended family—relationships are stymied by avoidance and protective gear. Work, school, and shopping look very different. History is being made with the COVID-19 pandemic and quarantine. A family time capsule (#CaptureCapsule) assembled during these turbulent times will record life-changing events and provide a historical reference that your family can later reflect on. In ten years, you can see how your family endured the crisis.

Benefits of Creating a Time Capsule

A time capsule affords a teaching tool and educational opportunity. Collecting, recording, and preserving what is happening will encourage communication and writing skills for kids. Learning to observe the world around us and address fears may help bring understanding, peace, and comfort to a child as the family participates in actual historic events. Looking for the fun and humorous things that take place can also lighten the emotional load of this crisis. Preserving memories can offer a sense of control for a family in an “out of control” situation. Your own #CaptureCapsule will become a personalized family history record of the daily experiences, fears, fun, challenges, and unusual happenings that began in March of 2020.

How to Create a Time Capsule

Starting now, encourage your family to assemble items that illustrate the experiences they are having and the changes in society that are taking place. Find a sturdy box or plastic bin where the family can deposit items they collect for the time capsule.  The box or bin should be good quality—able to withstand time—and have a secure lid. Keep the bin accessible during the crisis so items may be added often, but in a safe place where the memories can be secure. Encourage family members to decorate it, and put “DO NOT OPEN UNTIL 2030!” signs on the top. Consider creating a digital file where family photos and historical moments can be preserved and downloaded.  Add a flash drive or printed items to the bin before sealing.

Plan now for a long-term place to store your bin when completed so it will be accessible in 10 years for a family journey back in time. If you like, you may register your #CaptureCapsule with the International Time Capsule Registry so you know where to find it and when it should be opened.

Suggestions of items to add to your bin include a weekly paragraph or journal entry from each family member, recording impressions and events of the quarantine life as your family stayed at home. Include photos of the family with a list of all names and ages both in the home and those who live away (grandparents, aunts, and uncles). Share how you stay in touch with your extended family.

Don’t forget to add articles you find about the life-altering school closures and copies of completed schoolwork with names, dates, and ages. Detail any work layoffs, travel restrictions, and shopping extremes you have experienced. Capture how you celebrate birthdays, and major life events. Remember to add personal daily things like listing the games you play, the programs you watch, and the foods you prepare and eat together. Note those signs at the grocery store and other community changes.

New jokes, memes, and humor in any form would be excellent additions. Adding an empty roll of toilet paper with an explanation may say a lot in ten years! Photos of the family in masks or gloves would show the measures taken. Don’t forget the new phrases—with explanations—now commonly used such as “six-feet apart,” “social distancing,” “flattening the curve,” etc. Sudden changes catch our attention, but as they become the new normal, we are less likely to recall how life-changing they seemed. Daily recording is essential to keep up.

It is OK to include serious things, like what it was like to have family financial concerns and what you did to cope. How has COVID-19 touched your family’s health concerns? What measure are you taking to stay safe?

Record things you are thankful for, the music you listen to, the books you are reading, the spring time, the songs of the birds, or blossoming flowers. Feel free to add the things you would change if you could. You might capture what the family did for haircuts and what your daily routine is.

Writing down or video journaling your thoughts, dreams, and your biggest concerns will provide a window of understanding and reflection that will bring the memories of this time to life.

Your family is making history. Use your #CaptureCapsule to learn from the experience and see how you did in the rear-view mirror of 2030.

Share Your Capture Capsule!

Once you’ve gathered the contents for your family’s time capsule, take a photo or video of your capsule or any of the pieces you’re including in it, and share that with other K12 families by submitting it in the form below!

Additional Resources

Legacy Project
How to Make a Time Capsule
Rekindled Spaces on Making a Time Capsule
Chatbooks: A fast, easy way to preserve family memories
Facebook Memories Resources for Online Diaries

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