Tombstone Epitaphs

Activity Objective

To help the children think about what kind of person they want to become by the end of their lives

Lesson Outcome

By creating their own tombstone epitaphs, the children will be encouraged to think about their futures and the kind of people they want to become as they grow older.


  • Medium-size shirt boxes (one per child)
  • Brown paper bags (one per child)
  • Tape
  • Scissors
  • Markers
  • Scrap paper


  • Explain to the children that an epitaph is an inscription on a tombstone in memory of the person who is buried there. It is usually a short saying, written in prose or poetry, as a tribute to the person who has died.
  • Give them a few examples of epitaphs such as

Norma Black is dead and gone, but her loving spirit still lives on.
Here lies gentle Harry James: A brother, a baker, and a son of the same.
Sean P. Driscoll lived life to the fullest. He did his best and now gets his rest.

  • Ask them to imagine that after long lives, they have the opportunity to write their own epitaphs. On the scrap paper, have them write an epitaph for themselves that says something about the kind of person they hope to be remembered as.
  • When the children have finished composing their epitaphs, have them cut apart the paper bag and use it to cover the shirt box. Tape the paper in place.
  • Across the top of one side of the box, have them print their full name and the date they were born.
  • Below their name, have them inscribe their epitaphs.
  • If they are willing, ask the children to share what they wrote on their tombstones with the other children.

Learning Styles

Art/Space Smart, Self Smart

Approximate Time

15 minutes


To lessen the time needed for this activity, use a piece of construction paper for the tombstones.


If there are children in your group with special needs (physical, visual, hearing, language, or behavioral disabilities), adapt the activity accordingly.