How to set up a Time Capsule for your Homeschool

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There are not many rules when discussing how to set up a time capsule, because you have to do what works for you! I don’t think there is a wrong way. Understanding WHAT a time capsule is will help you understand how to set one up. Setting up a time capsule was the first step in the Happy Hive Homeschool’s epic year of Holiday of the Day homeschooling adventures. You can set up a time capsule for any number of reasons, and at any time of the year! Keep reading for the how-to and plenty of ideas!

facebook post that says Just finished setting up our family time capsule - all during 2010 we are going to add stuff - then pack it away until 2020.
This Facebook post I made in 2010 brings back memories!

What is a Time Capsule?

A time capsule is a deliberate method of preserving materials so it survives into the future. The items placed in the time capsule can communicate what life was like at the time they were used. The time capsule can be hidden until discovered by future generations or it can simply be stored for a designated number of years.

How to set up a time capsule

In December of 2010 the Happy Hive created a time capsule. It was a simple bankers box. It was designed to store the memories and work samples from our year of Holiday Homeschooling. The outside is covered with “warning” signs: Do not open until 2020! Our Time capsule would be created and added to for one year, then stored for 9 additional years.

image of the bankers box used as a time capsule. the box has signs that read, do not open until 2020.
Our family time capsule when it was brought down from the attic in 2020.

If you have children, grandchildren, or even for yourself, I highly recommend setting up a time capsule.

Here are some things to consider when setting up a time capsule for your homeschool.

What purpose will your time capsule serve?

Is your time capsule a family project or a student project? Is it meant to preserve only schoolwork or everything about life during the collection phase? Think about when the capsule will be opened and what will be communicated.

For example, our box had great work samples inside. After 10 years we were able to read them and laugh and laugh at the creative spelling that was used by each child. I was not a red pen spelling correcting mom. Those worksheets communicated that correcting every spelling mistake would have been the waste of time I knew it was. Each of my children survives out in society and can spell just fine.

Another question to decide beforehand is will you create ONE time capsule or one for each child? My children are very close in age, using one capsule worked just fine, a large family with many children may consider a different process. Perhaps each Child Begins their capsule on their 5th birthday and opens it on their 10th, or 10th to 20th. (you get the idea – this can begin at anytime!)

Decide how long you will keep your time capsule. We liked 10 years because enough time had passed the memories were, well, MEMORABLE! I also think deciding how long you will take to assemble and add to the time capsule is important to the process of how to set up a time capsule. Will you work on it for one or two months, or will you add to it over an entire year? Where will you store the time capsule? Ours was stored with the Christmas decorations so it was very visible year after year and would not be forgotten.

Part of our process was including a questionnaire for each family member. I placed a duplicate copy of the same questionnaire in a file folder on the top of the box and it says: COMPLETE BEFORE LOOKING IN BOX. The idea is to compare our answers and see all the changes 10 years have brought.

white bankers box used as time capsule. File folder with worksheets on top says complete before looking in box.
It’s likely a good thing I put the reminder to complete the worksheets in BIG letters!


I can’t tell you how wonderful it was to look back AND to be present in the moment as we opened our time capsule on New Year’s Day January 1, 2020. Inside was this picture. It was taken in May of 2010 when we went to the Grand Canyon.

Family posing at the grand canyon
Spending some time visiting the Grand Canyon in 2010. This Family picture was one we chose to put inside our time capsule.

For comparison’s sake here is a more recent picture from July 2019 when we were camping in Yosemite. That was the summer Happy Hive Homeschooling officially became an online business! Yea me!

family posing in front of view of Yosemite National Park
Our Family (Including Penny) in 2019 on vacation in Yosemite National Park.

I don’t like to spend my days “wishing” but comparing the two pictures, it sure would be nice to have them that little again. I do very much enjoy my young adults (when they are home!)

Favorite items from the Time Capsule

As we went through the time capsule, it was a bit chaotic. The first thing we did was sort everything into piles by family members. The children each had the most. That’s a change I would recommend. Don’t forget Mom and Dad if it is indeed a FAMILY Time Capsule.

After they had their piles and a bit of time to look at everything, I asked each of the kids to pick their favorite item.

This is Lauren’s favorite item from the box. Her spelling, as the oldest at the time (9 years old) isn’t too bad. The sibling relationship is coming through loud and clear. And to think I didn’t want to send them to school so they would not get picked on or bullied. Snort. Siblings are the best at that stuff!

a worksheet that was selected as the favorite item from inside the time capsule of my oldest daughter.
Boy, do these answers make us look like one of THOSE families or what???

Megan chose the same worksheet as her favorite. Her spelling was always very inventive! She was 8 at the time, and this is before her reading took off. I am a firm believer that children learn how to spell by being exposed to words through reading. I promise Megan got better and better the more and more she read. She will never be the National Spelling Bee champion, but she can hold her own! I also noticed she didn’t put her name on the paper. That was EXTREMELY common in the Happy Hive Homeschool. I didn’t need them to. I knew who’s work was who’s…and we knew when we were passing it out 10 years later too!

a worksheet that was selected as the favorite item from inside the time capsule of my middle daughter.
My middle daughter was very inventive with her spelling.

Douglas chose this as his favorite item from the box. This was the first thing we completed on New Year’s Eve 2009, and then again on New Year’s Day 2020. At 5, Douglas wasn’t doing much writing. His approach served its purpose, and homeschooling is all about adapting to the needs of your children!

a worksheet that was selected as the favorite item from inside the time capsule of my son, the youngest.
Mom Pan – is Douglas speak for pancakes, still a favorite!

Other Time Capsule Memorabilia

I kept an item of clothing for each of them. The “shorts” I had for Lauren started out as pants, and she loved them so much that when they got too short for her, we cut them into shorts. Lauren just grew taller, never much wider!

a picture of a pair of shorts that was a saved clothing item inside the family time capsule.
These shorts were originally pants. Sadly, they did not still fit my daughter!

Megan’s was a shirt. Boy did that girl love horses. This shirt brought all that flooding back. I even found a picture of her wearing it!

a picture of a shirt that was a saved clothing item inside the family time capsule.
This is a picture showing my daughter wearing the favorite shirt in 2010. She is holding a creation celebrating the holiday we were studying.
Megan in 2010 with her Parade Float creation. NOTE: Megan is wearing fake glasses, She wanted them so badly, she just wore clear lenses we got at the 99cent store. She had about 5 pairs!

Douglas’ clothing item was best of all. He was complaining that it was inside out while Lauren held it up for us to see… it wasn’t. The fact was… Douglas wore this shirt so often it wore OUT!

a picture of a shirt that was a saved clothing item inside the family time capsule.
This shirt is beyond worn out, I’m surprised it doesn’t have holes in it!
a picture of a shirt that was a saved clothing item inside the family time capsule.
Everyone should love a shirt this much!

So then he said, well I was 5, It had Pirates on it!

Douglas wore this shirt my Mom brought him from Catalina for approximately 4 years! That’s CrAzY.

Here is Douglas in 2007 wearing the shirt. He would NOT let me retire this shirt until it did NOT fit anymore!

a picture of all 3 kids, but the focus is on my son, wearing the shirt all the way back in 2007. No wonder it was worn out!
This shirt goes WAYYY back to the time of the Dinosaurs perhaps!
teen boy trying on paper Dr. Seuss hat from childhood
Wondering if it still fits…
young boy wearing paper Dr. Seuss hat eating green eggs.
Original Dr. Seuss hat. Probably fit better because his hair was shorter!
Young adult reading contents of Family Time Capsule
Lauren enjoys reading the “childish” things she wrote, still able to relate to them today. She has always liked sleeping!
Three Family members holding memories from the time capsule box.

Here they are, now 15, 17, and 18 holding their favorite items from the box.

I’m looking forward to the TIME I have with my three bugs and the Memories we will make from today forward. I hope you enjoyed looking back at our memories as well and will get your time capsule ready for your homeschool!

Let a Time Capsule help you Homeschool through the Holidays!

The Time Capsule is an excellent end to your Homeschooling through the Holidays Season. If you are not familiar with the ways in which the Happy Hive recommends taking a break from traditional homeschooling and letting the holiday season provide the lessons now would be a GREAT time to check it out so you are fully prepared for October, November and December’s lessons when they arrive. You can learn all about Homeschooling through the holidays in THIS POST

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