Book of Centuries ~ CM Carnival - Eva Varga

February 29, 20084

One of the most intriguing components of Charlotte Mason’s approach to learning is the Book of Centuries. Essentially it is a timeline kept in a notebook, a growing resource that a child adds to continually. The original description was literally one page of writing selected events and one sketching page per century. It may include essays, booklists and sketches, as well as dates, names, and events.

When we started homeschooling in August, this was one of the first things I set up and started using. Though I don’t know how long I’ll continue to homeschool (my hope is at least through 8th grade), the Book of Centuries is one component that I know we will continue to use through adulthood. It is just such a great idea! I wish I had had one when I was growing up.
The first thing we did (once the notebook/binder was put together) was to add photos of ourselves, as DH and I were both born in the 1970s and the kiddos were born in 2002 and 2005. We also put a photo of DH and I at our wedding (1995) and one of the kids and I dressed in our period costumes (1880).

Whenever we read or watch something that applies ~ Art Study (Renoir, Degas, etc.); Emperor Qin (the first emperor of China); Marco Polo & Genghis Khan; Helen Keller (we attended the play, “The Miracle Worker”); Serum Run and the 1st Iditarod ~ we add the date, a brief description and a photo (sometimes from the internet, sometimes copied from a book, other times hand-drawn).

It is such a great learning tool because it provides a visual of what was happening in the past and connects subjects that are typically taught independent of one another. For example, on the page 1800 – 1899, we’ve already included Renoir (fine arts/France), Helen Keller (Eastern USA) and ourselves as living history volunteers (Western USA). It makes the past come to life – puts it all into perspective in regards to what was happening throughout the world at any given time.

We are, of course, just beginning, so there are many, many blank pages, but as we progress, I know it will become more and more useful. It will be fun to compare the writing she has done this year in comparison to what she will be doing 10 years from now.

Though there are many different styles and pre-made timeline books one can purchase, I chose to create a simple one in a 3-ring binder with tabs for easier navigation. We can expand it if the need arises later. If you would like a simple one of your own, follow this link to download a free Book of Centuries document that labels each two-page spread with a date (in hundred-year increments) from 4000 B.C. to A.D. 2099, and follow the easy steps below to create your own.


  • Keri

    February 29, 2008 at 7:01 pm

    We have the book of centuries as well. My kids both wanted their own.
    They really like it!

  • Rachel

    February 29, 2008 at 7:43 pm

    We haven’t started this yet but I am really looking forward to it! I love this idea! I know many people do it on the wall, but I prefer a notebook so we can continue to add to it as long as we like without worrying about room (just add more paper) 🙂

    Thanks for the link… and for stopping by my blog!

  • A Dusty Frame

    March 4, 2008 at 4:53 pm

    This was my big summer project last year.
    I got it all ready and set up before school started in the fall.

    We love it! I too use a notebook (a BIG one;)). We add things as we go and I love seeing how everything fits together.

    I used the forms at LindaFaye’s blog.

    I usually google images for whomever we are looking for and print out a small one.

    Good idea to add our own photos (DUH!) I hadn’t even thought of that;)!

  • Jimmie

    March 6, 2008 at 12:41 pm

    We’re using a notebook timeline this year and adding in among the pages notebooking pages and some flat crafts. It’s good. It’s basically your Book of Centuries. 🙂

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: