Have you ever made a time capsule?
You know, you gather a bunch of memorabilia together, stuff that is important to you or speaks to who you are as a person, put it in a box, and bury it to be found later so people of the future will get you.
We did that for my senior class in high school. Each member of the class put in one thing that represented him or her as a person and it got… buried? I don’t know. Total transparency, I think I skipped that day.
Hey, it was the last week of senior year and I was an honor roll student. I deserved a break.
Well, my delinquent shenanigans aside, I have a very cool idea today for making reading fun.
My boys have some all-time favorite book characters. Percy Jackson, for sure. Greg Heffley, absolutely. Jess Aarons, Oliver Twist, Pip Pirrip… You get the picture. Sometimes characters just speak to us. I’ve never gotten over my crush on Stu Redman, the ultimate badass-but-thinking good guy from Stephen King’s The Stand.
So letting go of those characters is hard. I mean, do we ever? (Obviously not, since I first read The Stand in my teens and I’m a long way from that era. Ahem.) But even if your child is reading a book about a character that isn’t going to stick with him forever, there’s a fun way to make sure he understands who he’s reading about.
Character time capsules are pretty simple to put together, and you can make one for any character in a book, which makes it even more fun.
How to make a character time capsule
This is so much more hands-on than writing a book report or a character mock-up.
Pick a character from the book you’re reading.
It can be the main character, a secondary character, the antagonist–whoever strikes your child as interesting. Our example is going to be Jess Aarons from Bridge to Terabithia (you know, since I just did an Activities for Learning on the book and he’s fresh in my mind).
As you read the book, pay special attention to your character.
What are her likes? Dislikes? Does she wear any jewelry or a specific article of clothing? What is special to her?
Here’s a free printable so to track these things on:
Choose a box or container
This can be a shoe box (or, if you’re like me and have a ton of old Amazon boxes lying around…), an old thermos, a plastic tote, a large coffee can… any ol’ thing that the good stuff will fit in. We chose a shoebox-sized plastic tote.
Write a letter
Write a letter to the future person who might find the time capsule from the character to place in your time capsule. Here is an a example letter and a template you can print out:
Collect objects for the time capsule
Using the list you made for your character, find items that represent the character. This can be toys or tools, clothing, jewelry, drawings, letters, brochures or other media, or anything else you feel appropriate. 5-8 items should be plenty, but of course you can choose as many as you want.
Jess’s favorite things are art and running. His loves are his music teacher, Miss Edmunds, and Leslie Burke, his best friend. His problems? Chores and being misunderstood.
So we gathered together art supplies, a sketchbook, a running shoe, a pic of him with Leslie (we had to take it from the film because we couldn’t find a good one from the book), a musical instrument, and the lid to an old milk carton (washed, of course) to represent milking the cow.
Place memorabilia in the container
Arrange the items in the container and put the letter in with them. Choose a future date to look at the time capsule (a couple of weeks to a couple of months).
After we put everything in the container, we chose to look at it again in 2 weeks.
Revisit the time capsule
When your set date arrives, discuss the character and the book. What does your child remember about the character? Talk about it before taking out the time capsule
Pull out the time capsule, read the letter, and go through the items. Discuss what your child has forgotten about the character and how the items reminded him or her of parts of the book or character traits that have lapsed from their memory.
A cool variation on this would be to read the first half of the book, put together a time capsule with the character writing the letter to his future self, then finish the book before revisiting the time capsule. Then you can discuss how the character changed over time.
This is so much fun, the boys have decided to start doing it for every character they read about.
So pretty soon, my whole house will be packed up in little tiny boxes. I wonder where we could move to?
You game to help?
Looking for more ways to make reading fun? Check out:
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