Book of Centuries – Why Use One?

Charlotte Mason wanted children to learn history and to understand the flow of history. She used timelines, history charts and this curious Book of Centuries. Her plan was for children to see history holistically. Not as just a collection of random events.

A Book of Centuries is a timeline book. Your child makes entries as they come across events and people and they place them in a book.

Don’t Start A Book Of Centuries Too Early

I started a Book of Centuries when my kids were young (around 7). I’ve since found out that Charlotte Mason started the Book of Centuries when children were around 10. I was a little too fastidious about it and it sometimes (often) took the fun factor out of the experience (for the very little ones). After a while, I put them away as we were mostly doing Australian history and we weren’t using them properly.

Our First Book of Centuries

Book of centuries image

I pulled them out of the shed a few years later. And we began again with Ancient history – this time doing some Chinese history. My kids did enjoy looking at their old work. I’m so glad I didn’t throw them out. I can see the great value of keeping these books going. My daughter  was very impressed with her drawings from when she was 7. She wasn’t at all embarrassed by her childish sketches.

Begin With A Timeline Folder or Chart

A Timeline Folder is a simple timeline. You can stick these charts to a wall or fold them away for easy storage. These are made using clip-art , a cardboard folder and our dates are taken from the James Usshers’s world history chronology and history spine

DIY Time Line Folder

History Timeline
To make your Timeline Folder you will need an A4 Manila Folder, a pencil and a ruler. And some timeline figures.
My Homeschool has pre-done timeline figures for Grades 2 – 4.

DIY Book of Centuries Instructions

1.Draw a straight line of across the width of your open folder. You will need to draw this 12 cm from the bottom of your folder to get the best space layout for timeline figure placement.

2. Now draw in your timeline dates.

i. Creation – 2.5 cm apart First date Before the flood and this finishes at 400BC

ii. Middle Ages – 3 cm apart
Start at 400 BC and finish at 1000AD

iii. Up to Modern History – 4cm apart
Start at 1000AD and finish at 1900.

Make A Book of Centuries

  1. Get a 96 Page A4 Hardcover Botany Book. You only need the 96 page one. Don’t be tempted to get a bigger one. You need it to be hard cover with a sewn binding because you want it to last.
    They cost about than $3.  You can cover your book of centuries with nice paper – scrapbooking supplies stores usually have a beautiful selection.
  2. Now you need to enter the dates. Whilst this will take only a half-hour you will need to concentrate. You don’t want to get your dates wrong. I also suggest using an erasable ink pen; just in case you make a mistake.
  3. Add the period of history up the top and then the date divisions along the margins.
  4. Each century gets two pages. You mark the dates in on the right side and use the left side for illustrations or extra notes.
  5. I have started from Creation using the Bishop Ussher’s references. He dates Creation from 4004BC. I left the first page free as a Creation Page. If you don’t want to do that you may prefer to label it Pre-History. If you are using a secular timeline archaeological dates start much earlier (this is not an exact science). You can leave up to three pages at the beginning for prehistory but don’t use more than that.
  6. For the first two thousand years we use a one thousand year spread as we don’t have a lot of information to put here.

Additional Timeline References that may help.

  • Annual of World by James Ussher (Begins 4000BC)
  • Cassell’s Chronology of World History by Hywell Williams (Secular begins world history at 8000 BC) (Out of print but you may find it second hand at Amazon).

At My Homeschool we use a Book of Centuries from Grade 5 to Grade 10.

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Cognitive Load Theory is a framework for understanding how our brains process and retain information. By understanding this theory, you can optimise your learning and improve your ability to retain information. In this article, we’ll explore the basics of Cognitive Load Theory and why learning times tables is important for success in mathematics.

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