As well as being a great craft to keep kids busy, creating a COVID-19 time capsule will be a great way for them, or others to remember this historic time in years to come.
A Covid-19 time capsule is an easy project to do with your kids (opens in new tab), plus they are totally unique to every person so you can be sure that you're creating a real historical artefact.
As much as everyone keeps saying it, these really are unprecedented times that no one alive today has ever experienced before. In the future, children in schools will be learning about social distancing (opens in new tab), lockdown and the coronavirus in their history classes.
So why not make a piece of history with your child, by creating a Covid-19 time capsule?
What are Covid-19 time capsules?
Time capsules are containers of some kind which hold a selection of objects, picked because they have a special meaning in the time that we're living in.
For example, time capsules have been found from as early as 1874 in the UK with photographs and letters, describing daily events happening that year.
Often time capsules are buried underground, beneath floorboards or stone slabs. In 2015 one was buried under the Millennium Dome in London to be opened in 2050.
With the coronavirus pandemic, we are all living through an important moment in history. Many people want to help future generations learn about this time using time capsules, full of things that show what life under lockdown (opens in new tab) was like.
So, how do you make your own Covid-19 time capsule?
How to create a COVID-19 time capsule
While everyone will make theirs differently depending on what they think is important, these are some of the basics that you should do to create your time capsule.
Choose your box
If you’re burying your time capsule, it’s important to use a sturdy container that won’t rot or fall apart over time. Especially if you’re thinking of burying it in the garden. It also needs to be something that is easily recognisable as valuable by whoever finds it in the future. A box made out of one of these materials will be mostly waterproof and sturdy enough to maintain its shape over time. Definitely don't make a time capsule container out of a cardboard shoe box!
These are some of the materials your Covid-19 time capsule box could be made of:
For a wooden box, we recommend one like this, which you can buy on Etsy and personalise with your own name. If you want to make your own, it’s really easy. Using spare wood that you might have around your home and wood glue which you can buy online, create box that’s 25.5 cms wide and 12.7 cms high. This will give you plenty of space to make sure you can fit all of your important objects in it.
Scientists say that burying plastic isn't good for the environment because it doesn't decompose well, but that's what makes it a perfect material for your time capsule. Plastic such as Tupperware can last for up to 1000 years when it's buried in the ground, so have a rifle through your kitchen cupboards and find a box that you're not using.
Traditional time capsule containers like this one (opens in new tab) are made from stainless steel. That makes them great for burying because the moisture in the ground won't get into the box and damage the items inside. But often they're expensive and not quite big enough to hold all the things you want to put in your time capsule.
Collect your objects
These need to be the best objects to describe the time we’re living through at the moment. You Covid-19 time capsule should include things like:
Photos are a great way to show future generations what your life was like.
For a time capsule to remember COVID-19, you might want to include photos of what kind of things you did at home. This might be pictures of you doing the Joe Wicks workout, (opens in new tab) or running around in the garden. You could also include print outs of empty streets and parks that have been doing the rounds on social media.
Newspapers are perfect to include in a time capsule. Although they might fade over time, newspapers show the date, what exactly was happening and how people were thinking at the time.
Because you’re creating a time capsule in the time of COVID-19, the headlines are likely to be about something negative. So to balance it out, include some positive news stories that you’ve seen so that whoever finds your time capsule will know that people were still looking at the positive side of things. You can also include cuttings and pages from magazines and newspapers you have relating to lockdown - or some print outs of articles like this one!
Letters and postcards
Pop in there any letters, birthday cards and postcards sent between friends and family - and you could also include the letter from Prime Minister Boris Johnson sent to each household.
Even if you only do it for a couple of weeks while we’re in lockdown, a diary will be an invaluable part of your time capsule. It’s more personal than a newspaper and your child will be able to describe what’s going on in the world from your own perspective.
If thinking about what to write, try a list of positives and negatives about the current situation. Lockdown is obviously tough and can be boring, frustrating and scary, but spending more time together as a family could be a positive.
Interviews with people in your house
This will be a great way to show future generations how everyone felt about having to stay inside the house, how parents got on with homeschooling (opens in new tab) and what people were interested in.
This handy worksheet set (opens in new tab), created by Long Creations contains great ideas for getting your thoughts down on paper and has questions for family to answer as well.
A pack of cards
To show how households were connecting by playing games and going back to basics.
Where to bury your Covid-19 time capsule
Once you have a suitable container for your objects and have filled it, you can bury your time capsule.
If you are burying your time capsule in your garden, make sure you dig a hole that's four feet deep or more. This will stop it being accidentally dug up by someone doing some overenthusiastic gardening in a couple of years.
While you might be slightly hesitant to pull up the floorboards in your house (very understandable), you might have a loose one already. If you do, then you can bury your time capsule under the floor. It's still important to use a box that's sturdy and somewhat waterproof though, as it will be exposed moist conditions.
Grace Walsh is a Features Writer for Goodto.com, covering breaking news health stories during the Covid-19 pandemic as well as lifestyle and entertainment topics. She has worked in media since graduating from the University of Warwick in 2019 with a degree in Classical Civilisation and a year spent abroad in Italy. It was here that Grace caught the bug for journalism, after becoming involved in the university’s student newspaper and radio station.
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