Practical Tip Book of Centuries for mom and kids

Here’s this week’s practical tip ~

Book of Centuries

A Charlotte Mason education includes a Book of Centuries.  Following Ms Mason’s approach, children enter records, illustrate and write brief notes and mark dates of famous people, events, wars, eras, inventions and significant breakthroughs in their Book of Centuries as they study.

For a young child, a visual timeline  chart or line along a wall or around a room is best.  It gives a child a bird’s-eye view of events in time; with Biblical and ancient history starting way back, with modern and current dates stretching out.  My young kids loved pasting the pictures on our timeline that went all around our room!  Finding the right date and placing for the picture on the timeline was an excellent introduction activity to a lesson or theme. enjoy their own book or notebook version.    Older children enjoy adding their own notes and illustrations or clip art.  Allow your children freedom to express their thoughts and details in their own, personal way.  Some kids prefer pasting clip art and drawing pictures, while others like to write lists.  I often provided a detailed timeline for specific themes, like World War ll, for example, which can be folded and pasted onto the relevant BOC page.  Over the years, their books fill up and become a wonderful reflection of the history they have studied.  This activity is an excellent conclusion to a theme or topic.

I wrote a post on how you can make you own very cheap, frugal Book Of Centuries using a store-bought notebook, or convert a spiral bound book into a BOC. This post includes the spacing and page layout suggestions.

I wrote about my joy of using a Book of Century as a mother’s record of work and I still love browsing through my BOC and delight in the scope and richness of the education we have journeyed through these 19+ years.  (In response to @Leanne’s comment about not having kept her own records in her BOC, I wrote, “@Leanne, If this is an idea you enjoy, just go ahead and do it! I “caught up” my BOC in one afternoon a few years ago! I simply took each History Core book we had studied and wrote in all the events, wars and famous people studied. The next day I took my Art Era Timelime and cut it up and pasted all the thumbnail-sized pictures in the main art eras, included all the famous art works and artists, and my BOC was instantly filled with color and info! In fact, if this is something your kids have let slide, it makes a good recap and overview activity which they might also enjoy!)

Here are some links and free Book Of Centuries downloads:

Wishing you every blessing, Nadene







New Music and Art Timeline

I created a new Music and Art Timeline.  Music & Art Timeline Cover This is a helpful Fine Arts tool, identifying both famous musicians and their music styles, as well as famous artists and their masterpieces displayed in parallel.

How to use the timeline:

  • Print out and bind as is, or add to a Book of Centuries.
  • Cut and paste the pages side-by-side/ under each other as a visual Fine Arts timeline.
  • Add art work thumbnails to a timeline on a wall.
  • Cut the art works and paste them on cards and let children match the artists to the eras.

You will find your free download on my Free Page ~ Art Era Timeline, fresh and newly updated!

Recently Homeschool Freebies of the Day featured my Art Era Timelines to email subscribers.  Subscribers often get links to special freebies that you will not find openly on Internet, so it is worth joining their subscription list!




Mom’s Book of Centuries Record of Work

One of Charlotte Mason’s principles is the Book of Centuries.  She encourages each child to add important information to their Book of Centuries (BoC) as they learn.

This year I decided to start my own Book of Centuries and as I noted in important dates and details as we learnt, I thought, “This will make an excellent record of work!”Book of Centuries

What should go into a Book of Centuries?

  • Names and birth/ death dates of famous and important people
  • Explorations, discoveries, inventions, technology advancements
  • Wars, conflicts and political events
  • Religious and philosophical changes
  • Art and music eras, as well as famous artists’ masterpieces


    We paste our famous artists at their date of death. Paste specific masterpieces or inventions on their dates. Simple key words to summarize.

As we cover a theme or topic, an era or event, learn about a famous artist or musical composer, we spend a few minutes and jot it into our Book of Centuries.  Sometimes this activity is a great introduction and provides a neat “bird’s-eye view” of the era we are going to study.  Other times, it provides a good conclusion/ review of our study.

Book of Centuries templates include:

  • Double-page layout with 5 horizontal rows  ~
    • Wars, Conflicts & Politics
    • Notable men & women
    • Discoveries, Inventions & Technology
    • Religion & Philosophy
    • Art & Music
    • each page has light vertical lines for the years
  • Eras – broken into 8 sections ~
    • Flood to 3000BC (Grey)
    • Ancient Civilizations 3000BC to 500BC (Green)
    • Classical World 500BC to 500AD (Turquoise)
    • Middle Ages 500AD to 1450AD  (Purple)
    • Renaissance & Reformation 1450AD to 1610AD (Orange)
    • Exploration & Colonization 1610AD to 1750AD  (Blue)
    • Industrial Revolution 1750AD to 1914AD  (Red)
    • The World Today 1900AD to 2050AD  (Grey)
  • Eras are broken into 100-years, 50-years, 20-years and 10-year pages ~
    • Creation until 3000 BC only one two-page spread is
    • From 3000BC to AD 1500 allow a 100 years per two-page spread.
    • From AD 1500 to AD 1800 allow a fifty-year span per two-page spread.
    • From AD 1800 to AD 1900 allow a twenty-year span per two-page spread.
    • From AD 1900 to the present allow a ten-year span per two-page spread
      (If you don’t do this, you will have large empty sections during the early
      years, while the later years will be crammed with too many entries.)


      Paste in detailed notes or extra timeline events

How I made my Book of Centuries:

  • Print all the pages on normal print paper. (You could print it on cardstock, and print back-to back.)
  • Punch the correct side of the pages,  The pages face each other, all the even pages on the right side, all the odd pages on the left side.
  • File the pages and glue the backs of the pages to each other.
  • Index the centuries with stickers or tabs.
  • Number the years across the top line under the headings. (Some pages are divided into 10 years per column, the modern years have 2 years per column.)

Here are some links and free BOC downloads:

l smile as I browse through my Book of Centuries and I fondly remember our homeschool journey over the past year.  I could also use different coloured pens for each child’s studies or different curricula that I may use over the years … we’ll see.  Go on moms, make your own BoC!


Famous Artists 2013 Timeline

Famous Artist Timeline

We use both our Book of Centuries (BOC) and our Wall Timeline.

Every year I seem to change and refine our timeline work and their applications.  As the children grow up they develop a more detailed sense of where things “fit”on the timeline or in their BOC.

As the children entered middle school, they each started their own BOC.

Much to my disappointment, they didn’t really refer to it much unless I scheduled it.  Their entries were also not as detailed or as personalized as I would have liked.

But, I press on in 2013, and made this ~ all our Famous Artists we’ll study this year printed out on a simple timeline ~ (click the title below for your free download)

Famous Artist Timeline for 2013

With a quick snip-snip, my kids can cut out and paste the Famous Artist in their BOC. I’ll encourage them to write their biography notes with each artist and musician.

Which artists are we studying this year?

Rembrandt van Rijn, Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Pieter Bruegel the Elder, Caravaggio, Joseph Farquaharson, John James Audubon, Jules Breton, Albert Bierstadt, Elizabeth Gardener Bouguereau, William Bouguereau

Here’s a sample of my year plan:

Famous Artist 2013 Year OverviewHow did I plan this?

The simplest and most inspiring Charlotte Mason weekly inspiration came from All Things Bright and Beautiful. Patti creates a weekly post with a famous artist, some observations and suggestions for the art work, and she inserts a Classical Musician link and quotes a famous poet.  True to Charlotte Mason, she focuses on the same artist, musician and poet for the whole month.  If you are unsure of how to start your CM Fine Arts, just subscribe to her blog and it is all done for you!

Tip: Right-click on any famous public domain artwork and “save image as” to save the image to your computer. Use as a screen saver or wallpaper for the week you are studying the artwork.  Or print out postcard size for your “gallery” and your child’s picture study.

I also add artists or art works that I have in my art book collection.  I believe I must be faithful to use what I have at hand.  I’ll add library books to the collection as we go along. Basically I look for 3 to 4 good-sized prints for each artist. That will give us one picture each week for that artist for a month.

Typically I also look for a picture that will lead to an interesting art appreciation lesson.  We do not “do art” each time, but the picture should evoke a feeling, a thought or stimulate a story, or should be able to be narrated in detailed.

Ambleside Online have a great list of Fine Art subjects for each year.

Read how these amazing homeschool moms plan their art study:

Jimmie’s post – How to Plan Artist Study for a Semester at Jimmie’s Collage and

Barb explains how she does her Planning Art Appreciation for Homeschool or co-op at Harmony Fine Art.

Also, you can pop over to my Art Era Timeline and Famous Artists pages for more inspiration and free downloads.

So, join in.  How do you do your art study?  Feel free to share your experiences in the comments.


This post was submitted for the Carnival of Homeschooling.

Taking Time to do Timelines

Nothing beats a wall chart, timeline  or Book of Centuries to get a wonderful overview of  history.

Our timeline is full and crowded at the end of each year –

clusters of events, inventions, major changes and important people …

The kids’ frugal timeline book/ Book of Centuries look interesting …

After using timelines and Book of Centuries for over 14 years of homeschooling,

I learnt that ~

  • children seldom remember exact dates
  • timelines show relationships and links to people and events
  • my kids often link events to an existing event clearly dated in their heads – “Oh, that was just before the Civil War…”
  • they link time to eras and fashions“Oh, that was during Queen Elizabeth I’s reign …”
  • historical movies and DVDs are an excellent tool in relating to eras and events – “Yes, like in Pearl Harbor/ Little Women …”
  • my kids don’t think in timelines – but I do!
  • timelines are a learning stylenot everyone learns in a linear overview
  • I love an “overview” – a bird’s-eye view of history
  • my kids love detail – focus on here and now
  • timeline activities are great for introductions and conclusions to themes
  • timelines lack detail, but can offer good prompts
  • timelines are great tools to discuss, compare, link causes and effects, show consequences
  • we need to schedule time each week to fill in details on our wall chart/ timeline/ BOC
  • my kids generally just “get the job done” – no real joy here
  • the kids love to look back over what they have done and see what they’ve covered

Having said all this, I believe in timelines and personal Books of Centuries.

We will continue to jot down details each week, summarize themes and list important people and events on our timelines.

How have your children enjoyed/ participated in or applied their timelines ?


Frugal Timeline Book

We regularly use our Timeline Chart.

P1070785About once every 2 weeks we stick the relevant pictures on our chart.

A wall chart  timeline is a great tool to give children a “Bird’s eye” overview.

It is wonderful tool for younger children.

A timeline chart covers a huge period of time in a fairly small space.

It can get crowded!

(We have even added an extra piece to the side of our chart one year.)

In the past, I used a timeline that ran around the walls of our school room.  The children used to beg to climb up on the high chair to stick on the clipart, and it never was an issue that it was high up above the bookshelves.
P1070520When we did our South African History curriculum, we used our first Book of Centuries.

Because we studying a shorter period of the timeline, it was a wonderful tool for each child to use.

They recorded information, dates, names, titles of books we read, pictures and maps.

It became a very personal book.

Younger children cannot  ‘see the time’ in a book as well as they can on a wall chart or a timeline that runs around a room.

As our studies for next year is American History, it is also a short period of history, and I thought we should use timeline books combined with out Timeline Chart.

I found several templates and instructions on the internet, but I wanted to use the nature study books I had on hand. Frugal inspiration.

With a few calculations, some dates written in calligraphy, and index cut out along the side, I created 2 Timeline Books in an afternoon.  Quick and cheap!

I hope that my middle school child will fill it with plenty of details, pictures, illustrations and information.

I trust that my younger junior school child will keep track of events with brief notes she may copy.

We will still use our Sonlight timeline pictures.

I have highlighted them in green.

(I labelled all our American History books  in green with our Sonlight purchase.)

I clipped them together in their respective centuries, ready in a Ziplock bag near our chart.

Using the wall chart as well as their timeline books, the children will see the events, famous people, inventions and significant moments  in time and in perspective, and in write about them in more detail.

Some tips:

  1. Some children are global thinkers and need to see the full picture.  They enjoy placing some key events on their timelines before they study the theme.
  2. Let young children write their names (and important family member’s names) on their birth dates on the timeline.
  3. Encourage your children to note important/ significant historical events they already know on the chart or timeline.  (Christ’s birth/Christ’s death, and modern events like Sept 11th)
  4. Use a highlighter to colour historical ages or eras. (e.g.: the Dark Ages, Middle Ages, Renaissance, Industrial Revolution)
  5. Practice counting in 5’s, 10’s and 100’s. Count in decades and centuries.
  6. Explain vocabulary like century and decades, BC and AD.

I have made a summary of the Book of Centuries and Timeline instructions you can download here ~ How to make Book of Centuries.

I trust this will help you to make your own timeline wall chart or timeline books!

This post was featured on Carnival of Homeschooling: 42 Edition at Home Spun Juggling.  Click here if you wish to submit an article to the next carnival.

Carnival of Homeschooling