Imagine yourself traveling back in time. Would you visit the pharaohs of Ancient Egypt or inspect the steam engines of the Victorian Era? Ride a wagon on the Oregon Trail or sail the seven seas with a privateer? Today’s teatime celebrates time travel. So polish up your time machine, grab those goggles, and brace yourself for a wild ride through time!
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Did you know that in 2009, the famous theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking threw a party for time travelers? He got all the decorations and drinks ready, but here’s the catch--he didn’t invite anyone until after the party! Sadly, no time travelers crashed the party; in fact, no one showed up at all. He speculated that this meant time travel might not be possible.
Stephen Hawking might not think time travel is possible, but in your Poetry Teatime, you can prove him wrong! All you’ll need is a time machine, a time travel map so you know how to get there, and of course, the magic of language to power those time travel engines.
Make Your Machine
In a time travel party, the most important feature is the time machine. There are all sorts of ways to craft your own time machine. If you’re a fan of Doctor Who, you can add a TARDIS to your teatime decorations (no guarantees it’ll be bigger on the inside, though!). Just download this template from the BBC Doctor Who website, cut it out, and you’re good to start traveling!
You can also make your own time machine out of cardboard and aluminum foil. If you have a large box for a full-size time machine, follow this basic guide from PBS. Otherwise, you can use a cereal box and each person can create their own individual time machine. Take a look at this image from Pinterest for some inspiration. Make sure to include a dial on your machine with numbers for different dates in history, so that everyone will know what date you’ve traveled to!
To learn more about the science behind (real-life) time travel, check out this video from the Explanimator. You’ll learn all about relativity, wormholes, and traveling back and forth in time!
Grab a Time Travel “Map”
In order to travel through time without getting lost, you’ll need to have a map with you. Not a map of places, though--a map of time. You’ll need a large piece of paper and plenty of pens, crayons, or pencils. Butcher paper on the dining room table doubles as a great tablecloth and decoration! Grab a few history books, atlases, and reference encyclopedias to help you.
Once you’ve got your supplies ready, it’s time to build your map. Set up your time machine and choose a time to travel to. Write down that location and date on the time travel “map” and take turns adding information about that particular time and place. What do you think might be dangerous about that time? What do you need to be prepared for? After you’ve filled up the map with information, you can decorate it with all sorts of time travel symbols to get it ready for its first whirl.
Gear Up to Go
Before you leave, make sure you’ve got your gear. You’ll want to pack your time travel goggles. Then, create an aluminum foil wristband with a control panel that connects to your time machine. That way, you’ll always have a way to get home. You can also compete to see who can make the wildest time traveler’s hat out of cardboard and foil! Get some inspiration from this pin on Pinterest.
Once you’ve got everything in place, it’s time to press the button, pick a poetry book, and time travel!
Food, Drinks, and Decor for a Time Travel Party
Here are some more ideas for ways to celebrate a time travel themed teatime!
Dino fossil cookies: To make these cookies, you’ll need a sugar cookie dough that holds its shape and some plastic dinosaur figurines, which you can get from the dollar store or your kid’s bedroom floor (sanitized first!). Make sure the dough is chilled, then press the dinosaur feet into the cookie, so that it forms a print or a “fossil” shape. Pop the cookies in the oven and you’re done! For full directions, check out this post on Party Delights.
Clock decorations: Take all the clocks and watches in the house and put them on the table as a centerpiece. You can also hang up clocks or pictures of clocks on the walls. Get inspiration from these clock decorations here and here on Pinterest.
Time capsule: Of course, while you’re traveling in time, it’s important to remember your own time, too. Have each person pick out something from the modern world that means a lot to them. Collect all the objects in a container for “preservation.” You can even make a long-term time capsule to store your memories by following the directions here on WikiHow.
Traveling cups: For this activity, you’ll want several different types of cups. Your family may already have cups of different shapes and sizes with their own history or cups from different places. If you don’t, then stop by a local antique store and see if you can find any cool or ancient-looking cups cheaply. While you’re drinking your tea, go around the table and make up a story or tell the real story of each of your cups. Maybe one of those gilt-edged teacups belonged to your grandmother, or maybe you bought that wooden cup in a market in Japan. Use your cups to help you travel through time!
A World of Wonders: Geographic Travels in Verse and Rhyme, by J. Patrick Lewis
Dinothesaurus: Prehistoric Poems and Paintings, by Douglas Florian
Monumental Verses, by J. Patrick Lewis
The Death of the Hat: A Brief History of Poetry in 50 Objects, by Paul B. Janeczko (may be complicated for younger children)
Hand in Hand: An American History through Poetry, collected by Lee Bennett Hopkins
Jazz, by Walter Dean Myers (history of jazz from Ancient Egypt to present day)
The Tree that Time Built: A Celebration of Nature, Science, and Imagination, by Mary Ann Hoberman