The sci-fi and fantasy genres of books and movies teem with time travel plot devices with everything from technological gadgetry and objects imbued with special power to black holes, rifts in the space-time continuum and fancy flying maneuvers that send characters hurtling backward and forward in time. Generally, such missions are full of adventure and heroes who must race about dodging evil villains to save the world from certain doom. The excitement sparks kids' imaginations and time travel crafts can help them indulge their fantasies about what it would be like to be the time-traveling hero.
Time Machine Box
A large appliance box gives children a form to start with in creating their very own time travel craft for imaginative play. Cut a door in one side and spray paint the outer surface of the entire box in the desired color of the time machine. They may paint in additional details such as gears and levers or cut them out of other cardboard pieces and attach to the walls with brads so they can rotate. Other options include painting the box as a police call box to resemble Dr. Who's Tardis or cutting a full-length window in each side leaving several inches of frame on all sides. Tape transparent plastic sheeting over the openings on the inside and paint the rest as Bill and Ted's time-traveling phone booth.
Handheld Time Machine
Time travel boxes provide hours of fun but sometimes the young time-traveling hero needs something a bit more portable that he can easily carry with him for quick transport in an emergency. All a young engineer needs to create his own handheld time machine is an old empty watch casing or other small metal disc and access to a random assortment of scrap metals, glass, lenses, gears, springs and levers. Select parts for the face of the time travel device and arrange it in such fashion as suits the young artist's sense of futuristic temporal design technology. Hot glue the pieces in place on the metal disc and send the young adventurer forth to "save the universe" once again.
Time Travel Game
A time roadmap makes reviewing timelines in history into a game that allows kids to play and learn simultaneously. For an indoor game, use a long sheet of butcher paper and markers. For an outdoor game, you can draw on the sidewalk or playground with sidewalk chalk. Draw a long hopscotch-style board and label each box with a year in the timeline you need to review. Label the start with the current year. Each child tosses her marker on her turn and travels through time by hopping to the appropriate square. If she makes it and names one important event that happened in that year, she gets a point. Play to 10 points or as time allows.
A time capsule is a way to travel back in time and see what life was like in a different era or what the child was thinking and feeling at a younger age. Let the children draw pictures and write letters predicting the future, setting certain goals or telling about what is going on in the world at the time. Decorate a small box with glitter, faux jewels and paint. Have the children place their "treasures" inside. Put the smaller boxes into a larger metal box to protect them from decay. Set a time for opening the time capsule such as the end of the school year or when they graduate to middle school; or for long-term projects, perhaps high school graduation or at their 20-year high school reunion. Bury it and mark the site. At the appointed time, open the box and examine the contents together for a trip back in time.