The time capsule is just an ordinary shoe box. My son was allowed to put in anything that would fit in the box, with the understanding that he wouldn't see these items for twelve years (which meant no toys that he was in any way attached to). We settled on a little Darth Vader toy and stickers to represent his love of Star Wars. We got a plastic Lego Movie cup at McDonald's earlier this year, and we decided to have that represent his love of Legos. The kid loves Altoids mints, so we included an empty tin of those as well. I printed out some photos of him from throughout the year , and included those in the box. I threw in a couple of his drawings, too - one of the Solar System, which he loves reading about, and a scene from the movie Frozen.
Another option, in addition to the letter-writing, would be for parents, grandparents, and even great-grandparents to talk about what they would have put in time capsules when they were six years old. Depending on what we have or haven't saved over the years, some of us may even be able to show the child our old toys and childhood drawings and photos. If none of your childhood stuff is around anymore, you can always just write down the answers to some questions about your childhood. Put your answers to those questions in the child's time capsule. Now, they automatically have a simple chronicle of an ancestor's childhood. And it doesn't require a lot of time or writing on your part - just answering some simple questions, like the ones below:
- What toys did you like to play with?
- How did you get to school?
- What did you wear to school?
- What did you eat for breakfast?
- What books did you like to read?
- What did you like to do for fun?
- What sports did you like to play?
- Who was your favorite family member to visit or spend time with? Why?
- What were your best friends' names?
- What was your favorite holiday? Why?
Right now, in genealogy research, there is such a huge emphasis on interviewing elder family members before the information they know is lost. Young children are not really interested in sitting down with a family member and asking them to answer questions about their past, but that doesn't mean that they won't want to know this stuff about their ancestors when they get older. And when they open up that time capsule at age 18, and read a heartfelt letter from a grandparent, that just may spark an interest doing a little more research about that person's life. And we all know how much that can snowball, of course. :-)
©2014, copyright Emily Kowalski Schroeder.