Printable Book Of Centuries- How To Make It, And How To Use It

A “Book Of Centuries” is the fancy Charlotte Mason way of saying “Timeline In A Book”. The main idea of a book of centuries is that for each 2 page spread you open your book to, you are glancing at 1 century. You keep the book for your entire education, and add only the things that you personally learn about in History.

book of centuries spread 2

Keeping your own personal book of centuries helps you relate things you’re learning to things you have learned in the past, and it also serves as built-in review.

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I was excited about the idea of putting a timeline in a book because I do NOT have the wall space for a big timeline as a homeschooler. I also loved the idea of keeping an ongoing record of all the things we learned. After not finding exactly what I was looking for online, I created my own book of centuries, and made it printable (to save all of you the leg work!)

book of centuries 11

Some ancient History we covered with pictures of a model of the Parthenon we built, pictures of a Greek statue and a pottery project we did, and even a picture of the Parthenon we built from marshmallows.

Each Book Of Centuries is unique because each student adds only what they have personally learned and think is interesting- then it is added to the book with their own creativity and flair. It can be as complicated as being like a “scrapbook” or as simple as being just lists.

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I printed a thumbnail picture of an Egyptian art project we did and put it in with Ancient Egypt.

Charlotte Mason suggested giving each child their own book of centuries around 5th grade, but I have seen many homeschool families make a “Family Book Of Centuries” when the children are young. That’s what we have done. I suppose it’s really my book of centuries, because it will include everything I go over with my children for our entire homeschool span.

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It’s really great for me because I’m super bad with History, so it’s helping me visualize and be a better teacher. When the kids ask me a question about when something happened, I can say “Let’s look it up!” and then we write it in on the timeline. It helps me not to feel totally lost as a History teacher. Then when I go to write in “World War I”, I say “Look! That happened right after the Titanic sank!”

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Keep a designated set of colored pencils or fine tipped markers for adding things to your book of centuries as you go.

Here are some things you can include in a book of centuries:

  • People you learn about
  • Events you learn about
  • Book titles of books set in certain centuries
  • Sketches of inventions from that century
  • Sketches of clothing from that century
  • Historical events you find interesting
  • Important events and discoveries of the time
  • Your own family History!
book of centuries 1700's

See how we added when South Carolina became a state? That’s because we live there, so it’s interesting to us. I love how personalized these become over time!

This book is kept throughout the child’s education, and added to continuously.

Some of my favorite features of adding a book of centuries to our homeschool are:

  • The keepsake it creates for what we’ve learned
  • The built-in review you get whenever using the book
  • Being able to relate things you’ve learned to other things
  • Not needing the wall space for a traditional timeline
  • The kids being able to relate things they learn to things in the past

Once you have a book of centuries, here’s what you do with the kiddos:

Start with this Montessori lesson on BC vs. AD. This lesson is free to download and use, and I loved it! It focuses on how Christ is at the center of our calendar. I used our Christmas baby Jesus as a visual for this lesson.

teaching kids bc vs ad lesson

 

When we were done learning about BC and AD, we turned the printable from the Montessori lesson into a page that be put as the front page in our binder. I made a printable page for this (included in the download) so you don’t have to assemble it yourselves.Β Also, go ahead and add Jesus’ birth in on the timeline when you do this.

printable book of centuries page- BC vs AD- Jesus at the center of our  calendar

Printable page for the front of your Book of Centuries to let your kids know that Christ is at the center of our calendar, and He is always the most important thing! πŸ™‚

The next thing I would suggest doing is adding your birthday and your children’s birthdays in on the timeline, and then the day you started your Book of Centuries (today). Then start adding history that your children remember and were interested in. We put in family pictures of visiting Laura’s house from our time with the Little house books. When we covered modern American history, I added a picture of Lydia sitting on the Rosa Parks bus. Anything that helps your kids relate to and retain what they’ve learned.

book of centuries- add your birthdays

Add your own family History to your Book of Centuries! Did ya’ll know that I had a brother born on THE September 11th? Turns out, my kids didn’t either.

We have been adding plenty to the Jesus page this year! I love putting Jesus right on a timeline, and on a map. It just really speaks volumes to the children that he was a real person, who really came to earth, and went real places at real times. Not even kind of similar to the tooth fairy.

jesus in book of centuries

Reaffirm to your kids that Jesus is a real person by placing Him on maps and timelines.

When you put Jesus on a timeline, it’s really interesting how easy it is to see that his public life happened in such a short amount of time! I printed pictures for some of the major events (Jesus’ birth, Baptism, death, resurrection, and Pentecost). I also put in pictures of Jesus at the temple, and Jesus working as a carpenter in Nazareth because we don’t know anything else about those time periods.

I clearly marked the few years of Jesus’ public ministry, and made a place for a list of things he did. We’re filling in the Bible stories only as we learn them. I also ended up squeezing in a list of things Jesus did after he rose from the dead. I forgot there were so many things! I liked the way this was set up in our book, so I made a printable page for this as well, leaving room for you to write in your the Bible stories yourself as you cover them with your kids. This page is meant to help you “jump-start” your own Jesus page.

printable jesus book of centuries page

Once your book is ready to go, it is so fast, easy, and fun to upkeep! Did you read a Saint story this week? Put the Saint in on the timeline! Did you watch a history channel documentary? Put it in there! Did your kids read a Magic Treehouse book about Ancient Egypt? Write the title in where it belongs! Did you visit a museum and see some cool stuff? Stick some pictures to your timeline! Did your kids learn about an artist, or a scientist, or a composer, or pretty much anything? Add it to the timeline! Did you spend some time in November talking about the first Thanksgiving? Write it on there! Such a great way to help the kids relate everything, and it’s a great way to remember what you’ve covered.

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The true Charlotte Mason way is to give each century exactly the same amount of space. This way, your children can kind of “see” how much time it is. I know this will make for empty space in ancient history and crowded pages for more current, but I wanted to stick with the format. As I started getting into it, I found myself stressing out about adding things to our timeline and taking up “space” with drawings and family photos. I didn’t want to feel like I couldn’t write in what we learned, so I figured out a sneaky way to add more space when needed without lengthening the actual timeline.

how to add more space to book of centuries timeline

We plan to add half pages when (and if) the time comes that we have filled up the other pages completely. In fact, in my final printable version, I have moved the printable timeline up a hair to accommodate these half pages. The half page template is available in my printable version.

After working the bugs out when creating my own Book of Centuries, I made 2 more of them as birthday presents for 2 of my best friends. (Yes, most of my friends are awesome, nerdy, homeschooling mamas.) πŸ˜‰ So I have the system down-pat now, and I made it into one easy-to-use download for all of you. πŸ™‚

Downloadable Book Of Centuries: $2.00

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printable book of centuries- Charlotte Mason timeline

Features Of This Book Of Centuries Download Include:

  • An actual timeline-style format so that everything you add can go in chronologically without having to leave “gaps” in yourblank book of centuries printable pages lists. (This means there’s an actual timeline running across the page rather than just filling in a blank page.)
  • Easy printing set up to help with the confusing front/back printing that has to happen without having to write too much in by hand.
  • Circles indicating where the hole punching happens, taking the guessing out properly printing the century page-spreads.
  • A “sneaky” way to add more space to your century without lengthening your timeline, making it possible for all of the time to be represented on a standard amount of space. This way, you are representing an accurate scale of the passage of time to your students without running out of room on the more current pages.
  • A list in order of the dates you’ll put at the top of the page, along with the number of the century it is, taking out the frustrating guess work of getting putting it together in order. (This is especially handy for those “BC” years that count backwards.)
  • Suggestions for exactly which supplies will work best for actually utilizing your book, and making sure it holds up well over the years. All of the supplies are affordable and very standard/easily found.
  • How to get your kids started on the timeline.easy page for writing in years in book of centuries
  • How to keep going with your timeline.
  • How to assemble everything.
  • A cover page that features “Christ at the center of our calendar” and is a great introduction to BC and AD.
  • A list of ideas for things to add to your Book of Centuries.
  • Bonus timeline pages, including the presidents, and Jesus’ birth.
  • Suggestions for color coordinating your Book of Centuries
  • And of course, prinatble templates for all the pages you need to build your book, including 2 different printable covers and spines to choose from! πŸ™‚

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It also makes me feel good as a homeschool mom to flip through and see all the really cool stuff we’ve learned about… and all the pages of things we have yet to learn. πŸ™‚

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Comments

  1. Um, wow. Wow!!! πŸ™‚ That’s awesome πŸ™‚

  2. I was going to make one of these this year for our crew. I am wondering though about how you go about printing out all the little photos to add to the book? It seems like a lot of printing and wasting paper. Do you make a collection of photos and print it once a week? What is your process? Thanks.

    • Yes, I keep a file on the computer, and drop stuff in as we go. I try to print at least several things on each piece of paper. Of course, with tiny kids around the house, even half of a piece of paper doesn’t have to go to waste- they will color on it. πŸ™‚

  3. I am a HUGE History Nerd. Love it! Thank you for sharing your talents with us!

  4. Michaeleen says:

    This is such a GIFT! I had each of our children (three of them at the time) make their own Book of Centuries. Only one of the kids took interest in it and she filled it in regularly, the other two sort of felt “behind” since they did not like the “extra work” of the book upkeep. So, I can really see how doing one for the family would be (1) less repetitive (since we were creating three VERY similar books – each child reinventing the preverbal, historical wheel), (2) more complete since it includes work several children’s studies, and (3) giving everyone the opportunity to contribute to it, which makes it a fun, more collaborative effort. Additionally, I see the value in using it to cross-train the younger ones or the kiddos who may not have studied a particular event (yet or ever depending on individual abilities and interests). Thank you so much!

  5. Just downloaded it – thank you so much! I had seen other ones for free that didn’t have the line. This is a great resource πŸ™‚

  6. I cannot begin to thank you enough for this! I have been trying to find the time to make one myself (the ones I’ve found to buy are either too expensive or have a definite Protestant slant). You just saved me a TON of work! Off to put yours in my cart and buy it right now! Oh, and I plan to share the link back to this post on several sites and emails – I know others who would be interested, too! Thank you, again! God Bless you – you are certainly a gift to your family and to us! πŸ™‚

    • So glad you’re excited about it! I searched online for awhile, not wanting to spend this much time putting one together myself, but ultimately did not find what I was looking for. Often seems to be a case for me. lol.

  7. Colleen Rooney says:

    Grandmothers like this printable book, too! It is a wonderful idea and so well-done. Thank you.

  8. I am fascinated by this idea and personally would begin to make such a book as soon as possible, but my children are still little… The oldest is 3.5 years old. We can of course fill this book with saints we are talking about or so, but I am sure that the concept of such a long time – centuries – is still too complicated for him. And my question is – what is “minimal” age of a child who could benefit from it. I know every child is different, but I think you have some general idea, as you have more and older kids than I have. Thanks for your response!

    • I’m actually getting immense pleasure out of having this one myself (my kids won’t be getting their own until they are around 10) so you might like to go ahead and start one. Lydia (second grade last year) gets it and likes it. Julian (kindergarten last year) didn’t seem to pay it much attention, but I think I would start one with my oldest child in kindergarten.

  9. Awesome!! Thanks so much for sharing this! I’m printing it out now and excited to start using it this year!
    ~Jenny

  10. This is great. I think this might just be what I’ve been searching for! I do have one question – I see 2 different page templates in your pictures –
    ~one picture where you list what is included and it shows the banner at the top partially filled in and the dates on the lines by 10s – 40’s, 50’s, 60’s, etc
    ~other pictures where the banner is blank and the timeline is blank and you have filled in 1940, 1950, etc.
    Are they both included in the package? I don’t know which I like better. πŸ™‚

  11. I’ve just come back to look at this again now that I’m ready to print one, and your photos seem to have disappeared. πŸ™‚ The only one that loads is baby Jesus between BC and AD.

  12. Elyse Tweedie says:

    Love this! Where did you get the map of Israel at the time of Jesus?