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How to Make a Character Time Capsule


Create memories with a Character Time Capsule from any book your kids are reading

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

A character time capsule is a hands-on learning experience to help kids understand the characters in the books they're reading.

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:

This free printable of a Character Time Capsule letter example and template is perfect for helping kids understand book characters better. Great for homeschool or classroom

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.

These items were chosen to put into a Character Time Capsule for Jess Aarons from Bridge to Terabithia

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).

This completed Character Time Capsule is for Jess Aarons from Bridge to Terabithia

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?

Love wins,


Looking for more ways to make reading fun?  Check out:

A reading passport is a fun way for kids to keep track of books they've read. Create one of your own with this free printable.

Take a Journey With a Reading Passport

How to Hold a Literature Circle for Kids

How to Create a Novel Brochure Book Report

An Outdoor Book Tasting is a fun way to get kids interested in books and reading!

Hold an Outdoor Book Tasting for Kids

Having a weekly family book talk is a great way to encourage your children to read and keep them interested in reading for life

Book Talk: Encourage Family Reading

10 Days of Tips for Homeschool Moms

Don’t forget! This is part of the 10 Day series for Homeschool Moms.  Check out tips from these other bloggers:


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KT Brison

KT Brison is a former children’s librarian and educator who gave all that up for the most important job in her life—homeschooling her boys.Though she loves the outdoors and rambling around her farm, she can usually be found with her nose in a book. Any book. As long as it has words.
KT Brison
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About KT Brison

KT Brison is a former children’s librarian and educator who gave all that up for the most important job in her life—homeschooling her boys. Though she loves the outdoors and rambling around her farm, she can usually be found with her nose in a book. Any book. As long as it has words.
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  1. I love this idea! Thanks for sharing with us at Love to Learn. Pinned.
    Mother of 3 recently posted…Charleston Harbor Boat CruiseMy Profile

  2. What a great idea for hands-on learners! I have a reluctant reader, but she would be all over this! We’re going to try it when we start school next month. 🙂

  3. Thanks for linking up with us at #overthemoon and have a great day.
    Sue from Sizzling Towards 60 & Beyond recently posted…Fit & Fabulous: 5 things to tick off your self-care list – Week 4My Profile

  4. I love this, I was concerned how you were going to revisit it. I was thinking, “do you bury it??” This is perfect. I love this idea and it is brand new to me. By the way who goes to the last day of school anyway, ha!
    Jen recently posted…How to Get Online High School Math Help Using KnowreMy Profile

    • The funny thing is, I thought the same thing when I came up with the idea: “If they bury it, then what?” Simple answer–don’t bury it. My synapses were definitely snapping that day! lol

      Also, thanks for not judging my skip day. hahahaha

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