How to Make a Book of Centuries

by adustyframe ~ August 28th, 2008

Before I started homeschooling James, I wondered how I’d keep my home from looking like a school.

Don’t get me wrong. I get really excited about the things he’s learning.  I enjoy this homeschooling adventure more than I probably should.

But! I didn’t want charts, maps, posters, and timelines ALL over the house.

Of course these thoughts of mine produced a bit of guilt. “If I were a good homeschooling mom I wouldn’t care what’s all over the house.” (You know we’re all good at doing that to ourselves aren’t we?)

Imagine my delight when I bought Cindy Rushton’s notebooking E-book and found out that she didn’t want those things all over her house either! Yeah! I’m not alone.

Ok, so I could move forward without guilt and without things plastered all over my walls.

One thing I really wanted to avoid was timelines on the wall. Timelines take years to build. I imagined a saggy old thing falling apart before we could finish it. I also wanted to avoid having to start over every time the saggy old thing was falling apart.

Enter the Book of Centuries! We started ours last year. It’s very much a work in progress, but what fun it is to see the people being entered on their correct pages.

I know it will be a wonderful tool for James to continue to add to through the years. It’s good for me too. More than once, I’ve watched James add a figure and put two and two together for myself.

“Aha! So and so and So and so lived at the same time!”

It’s an excellent tool for uniting all the bits of information floating around in one’s brain and solidifying it into a concrete visual.

I found Linda Fay’s excellent tips on starting a book of centuries. I printed the Book of Centuries template here (I used the one that says thanks to Lori Carr)

Here’s how ours looks.

I found a BIG 3 ring binder. Since it didn’t have a plastic pocket on the front, I glued a page protector on it and made a sheet of paper with the stickers so it looks nice.

(This is just so you can see it IS a big binder.)

I printed up Linda Fay’s suggestion for how many pages per century. I found that I’d forget how to spread them out if I didn’t have this to refer to. (This information is in her post which I linked to above.)

I labeled the dividers, added page protectors, and inserted all the pages one day last summer. I sat outside with a glass of ice tea to make it more fun. (Everything is better sitting outside on a summer day right?)

When we read about someone new, I use google images to find a good image. I usually have to resize it in a Word document to make it about the size of the lines on the pages. At this time, I usually look up their birth and death dates and any other info. I quickly copy and paste it onto the same document and print it out.

I went through our studies for the first 6 weeks of school and quickly found them all in about 20 minutes earlier this summer. It doesn’t take very much time.

Every couple of weeks, James glues them into the book at the appropriate place. I usually ask him if he thinks the person should go in art, inventions, etc. He’s pretty good at figuring this out.

For now since I can write smaller than he can, I write the information on the person’s image. When his handwriting gets smaller, he will take over this task.

Since James is only starting Year 2, our pages are pretty sparse. Here is an exciting page with 3 entries! I love seeing how the people line up and fall onto the centuries.

For myself, I know the time period that these people lived, but seeing it all on the same page really helps put things together. I trust that this tool does the same for James’ brain!

For example, did you realize that Shakespeare and Pocahontas lived at the same time? Like I said, it’s a really wonderful piece of our homeschool.

Putting this together really is a not a huge task. The biggest part was counting up how many copies of the pages I’d need to make. I copied them wrong but it works anyway.

I put all the pages into their protectors and labeled the dividers all in one afternoon.

I chose to write the date on the bottom corner of the page only when we get to it. (Partly why I keep a copy of Linda Fay’s suggestions for how many pages per century. I just quickly refer to that and can find which page is supposed to be 1100-1200 for example.)

Now, it’s only a matter of finding the people and printing them out as we study them.

I showed this to Lee earlier this summer. He kept saying, “This is so neat.”

So there you have it! Whether or not you use Charlotte Mason principles or notebooking in your homeschool, I think a Book of Centuries can be a great tool for your own homeschool.


14 Thoughts Shared to How to Make a Book of Centuries

  1. TransitionGirl

    that is such a cool idea! and fun!!! if i had done that in school, my history knowledge and classes probably would have been better.


  2. Prairie Rose

    This is a really cool thing! I hope someday I’ll be able to use it! :o)

    thanks:) I hope you can use it someday too!

  3. Lisa

    Having lived with a very schoolish timeline all around the dining room for a year I agree!! Your book is starting off great! Was James as scared by Polycarp’s story as my daughter was at that age? lol…..

    I don’t think he was as frightened about Polycarp as he was sobered. I think it may have been his first introduction to martyrs.

  4. Jenn

    So cool! Kinda’ like a historical “year book”! So many neat tidbits of information could be incorporated into that: instruments of the time, inventions, etc. I actually might have enjoyed history in school if we’d done an activity like that. I always thought time lines were boring anyway.

    I know I was thinking how much info I’d have retained if I had a tool like this. I did learn a lot about history because my dad and my sister are passionate about it.

  5. theprincessofquitealot

    FANTASTIC and a lot of fun too!

  6. Carletta

    What a neat alternative to the timeline! I couldn’t imagine putting one all over my wall either, but this is something I may try when the kids are a bit older.

  7. Kim

    Love this idea! Thanks for sharing it.

  8. Shanna

    Thank you so much for sharing this entry! This is exactly what I’ve been wanting to do, but didn’t know how.

  9. Renae

    Great idea! I always think we should make some kind of record such as this, but you really simplified it. Thanks!

  10. Charlotte Mason Blog Carnival | A Dusty Frame

    […] I share how I made our Book of Centuries in this post. […]

  11. Jamie in Rose Cottage

    I admit that creating a book of centuries still intimidates me a bit, but I like yours. Maybe I’ll get motivated to create one now. 🙂

  12. Charlotte Mason Art Study~Van Gogh | A Dusty Frame

    […] take a few minutes to read about the artist and add them to our Book of Centuries and we’re pretty much […]

  13. Twinkle Mom

    Is a copy of Lori Carr’s template still available? Unfortunately the geocities sites has been shut down. 🙁

  14. A Dusty Frame » Blog Archive » Homeschool In The Woods~20th Century Lapbook~TOS Crew Review

    […] We used it as notebooking pages for notebooks that are already existing. I didn’t start a new notebook for this but included it in a history notebook, and our book of centuries. […]

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