Faith CoLab: Tapestry of Faith: Exploring Our Values Through Poetry: A Program for High School Youth

Faith In Action: Time Capsule

Materials for Activity

  • Shoeboxes, mail tubes, or plastic storage containers, one for each participant
  • Arts and crafts materials
  • Journals and pens or pencils
  • Newsprint or dry erase board and markers
  • Other materials as mentioned in the activity and contributed by participants

Description of Activity

To preserve this time in their lives for future reflection, participants plan and fill a real or imaginary time capsule. This activity takes place in two parts: one to plan what will go into the time capsule and the other to assemble it. During the time in between, youth can gather items from home and other places that they would like to include.


Make sure each participant has a pencil/pen and his/her journal. Explain the project to participants, saying,

Today, we are going to mark this particular point in time. You will freeze your ways of being and thinking about things in this moment in a time capsule that you can revisit later-at another stage of life-in order to remember and reflect on where you are in your life right now. Often the Faith in Action activities require us to put our values into practice out in the world. In this activity, we will recognize the value of self-reflection as a way to put our UU faith in action. We believe that self-reflection leads us to a greater understanding of who we are and how we are in the universe. It helps us make meaning out of life.

Help individuals both identify the materials they will gather for their time capsules and begin to construct their time capsule containers from the materials provided. Start by listing, on newsprint or a dry erase board, the items that will go into the time capsules:

  • A representative poem or song
  • A poem or song written by you
  • Recipe card (NOTE: Omit if your group did not do Activity 2, Life Recipes.)
  • Letter from the now-you to the future-you
  • Symbolic object, representing your personal spirituality
  • One or more symbolic objects representing a community to which you belong
  • Photograph
  • Letter from another person to you
  • Items representing our world as it is today

Have participants copy the list of items in their journal. Lead a discussion to explicate each item.

  • A representative poem or song-a poem or song, written by someone else, that represents your worldview, along with a brief description of why it’s meaningful to you.
  • A poem or song written by you-your self-portrait poem or drawing from Workshop 10; or another poem or song you have written that you think represents who you are at this time in your life.
  • Recipe card-if your group did the Life Recipe card lesson in Activity 2, Life Recipes.
  • Letter from the now-you to the future-you-decide whether you will open your time capsule in two, five, or ten years and address your letter to the “you” who is that much older than you are now.
  • Symbolic objects-one small, simple object that holds symbolic meaning for you, but not something irreplaceable or too valuable. If you think you might forget later why you chose the object, write and attach a note explaining its meaning. Try to pick something connected to your spirituality. Another object(s) that represents a community you strongly identify with.
  • Photograph-one that you think epitomizes who you are at this time in your life.
  • Letter from another person to you-a sealed letter, prose words, or poem of insight or advice written to you by someone close to you. After asking someone to write the letter, insist that she/he seal it before giving it to you.
  • Items representing our world as it is today-these objects could include a current paperback bestseller, a dated newspaper clipping, TV listings, a movie or concert poster; anything you associate with the state of the world today versus your own personal state.

Invite the group to suggest additional items they might like to include.

Give a shoebox, cardboard mail tube, or plastic storage container to each participant and indicate where participants can find arts and crafts materials. Allow the group to begin decorating their time capsules and assembling the items to place inside. Participants may also use the time to brainstorm a list of time capsule contents and begin writing their letters to their future selves.

Before participants leave, tell them the date of the follow-up workshop. Remind them to bring in their remaining time capsule contents at that time so they can complete the project. If the group wants to listen to music while they finish assembling their time capsules, challenge participants to bring musical selections related to growing older and the passage of time.

Leave at least ten minutes at the end of Part One for participants to both describe what they will place in their time capsules and explain why. Use these questions to lead a reflective discussion:

  • How do you think you might be different in two, five, or ten years than you are now? Might you actually see, feel, or think differently? How? Why?
  • Do you think you might forget what it is like to be as close to childhood as you are now?
  • In addition to changes that will happen inside you, what changes do you think will happen outside you? Do you think your personal world might be different? How? Do you think the larger world around you might be different? How?
  • Do you think your spiritual connections might change over the selected time period? Do you think your connection to Unitarian Universalism will change?


Between Part One and Part Two, remind participants to gather the time capsule items. When you reconvene, participants will complete their time capsules, seal them, and write the date they plan to open them clearly on the outside. Everyone should decide where they will keep their time capsule and plan to place it there as soon as possible after leaving the workshop. Participants may decide to meet at the congregation, after the selected time period passes, to open their time capsules together. If so, they should mark this information next to the date on the outside of the container.