Time capsule speaking activity

Time capsule speaking activity promotes speaking and teamwork in your classroom. It is a great fit for both adult and teenage students, levels intermediate to advanced. It works well during conversation classes and as an icebreaker for the first day of class. Assembling a time capsule allows your students to discuss and negotiate their choices, making for an engaging and motivating classroom activity.

The Task

Start by introducing the title of the presentation: Past Meets Present and ask how your students understand it.

Then, follow the presentation:

Slides 2-3 :  you might discuss these questions with the whole class

Slides 4-10: let your students decide with a partner how interesting they find each museum exhibit.

You might introduce the topic of a time capsule by showing your students the picture and letting them figure out what is coming up:


Riddle Time


Slides 11-13: students should work in groups of 3-4. Allow them around 10 minutes to come up with their lists. Then, one person from each group presents their list of ideas. Ask group members WHY they had selected these items. Leave slide 13 on the board as a source of useful expressions for students to justify their choices. After each group had presented their time capsule, ask other students to say whether they would add/delete any items and why (refer them to slide 13).

Finally, see whether it is possible to assemble an ultimate time capsule. Ask your students to select 7 top items presented in class and put them on the board. To follow up, ask your students to predict how people who will open the time capsule might react to what is inside:

  • will they find anything shocking / funny/ odd / surprising / unbelievable / silly / revolutionary / old-fashioned etc.?
  • will they know how to use the items / what their function used to be?
  • will they understand WHY such selection of items was included in the time capsule?

The last question you might ask: How would you react if you opened such a time capsule?

If you are interested in more engaging speaking activities take a look at Moral DilemmasFood Waste, Emojis and Parental Decisions.

Personal Experience

Time capsule is one of my favourite speaking activities. I often use it with my FCE and CAE students to help them practice group discussion, agreeing and disagreeing. It is also a perfect choice for conversation classes with both adult and teenage students, who tend to have very different ideas about what should and should not go in their time capsules. What I like about Time capsule  is its universal appeal and how student-centred it is. It ensures a lot of student speaking time and generates interesting class discussions.

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