Monday, July 6, 2015

Our Book of Centuries...with FREE Templates...

After reading The Living Page by Laurie Bestvater, I was inspired to keep a Book of Centuries (BOC).  I did some research online and couldn't find exactly what I was looking for so I decided to create my own based upon images in the Appendix of Bestvater's book. 

According to Bestvater, the original BOC began as a museum notebook, which was essentially for drawing artifacts found in the British Museum.  Here is Charlotte's reference to this...
I have already instanced a child's visit to the Parthenon Room and her eager identification of what she saw with what she had read, and that will serve to indicate the sort of key to ancient history afforded by this valuable book.  Miss G. M. Bernau has added to the value of these studies by producing a 'Book of Centuries' in which children draw such illustrations as they come across of objects of domestic use, or art, etc., connected with the century they are reading about.  This slight study of the British Museum we find very valuable; whether the children have or have not the opportunity of visiting the Museum itself, they have the hope of doing so, and, besides, their minds are awakened to the treasures of local museums.  Charlotte Mason, Vol. 6, A Philosophy of Education, pg 175-176
Bestvater further alleges that in 1915, the BOC became part of the PNEU program.  The following are notes I made while reading The Living Page...

Each two page spread represents a century.  It consists of a lined and a blank page.  The last ten pages are kept for small drawings of maps and descriptions of history of the child's choice.  The BOC was chronological in nature.  Pictures were rarely glued in - acknowledged as the careful observation and consideration required in drawing - also, inserting pictures made the book too 'bulky'.  The lined pages opposing the drawing pages had twenty columns comprising of 100 years.  Entries were always done in ink.  On the blank page, children were encouraged to conduct a personal study of one particular thing or artifact and sketch it in the same place on each page of their notebook throughout the centuries.  Drawing the same thing, as it would be encountered in each century.  The BOC wasn't started until Form II when the child's handwriting and drawing skills were perfected.  Students were encouraged to continue the BOC throughout their life. 

Based on these notes, I created a couple of templates.  The first is a single line page, which was probably more in line with the original BOC.   The student would write a century heading at the top.  Then they would enter up to five events per line, of their choosing, each line representing five years.  I have also included a cover with this template. 

The second template gives a better idea of what each timeline page would look like throughout completion.  Again, the student would write the century heading at the top, but the five columns and five year increments are already provided.  Please note, there is a page with ascending and a page with descending yearly increments.  This represents time in BC and AD.  

Whichever template you choose,  I recommend printing it single sided on heavier paper, possibly cardstock.  When assembled, this will provide the student with a lined and a blank page for drawing.

One other note of interest from The Living Page is that the PNEU schools actually had BOC teas and BOC evenings where children displayed their BOC along with handicrafts and nature notebooks for friends and family to see.  The BOC was a very special book, which provided a record of the child's interest in history as well as recorded knowledge.  


  1. Hi Melissa,
    Thanks for the peek at your BoCs. :)
    We tried our hand at the BoC when we first started implementing the CM philosophy. But for whatever reason, it didn't work well for us. So we began using century charts and they work perfectly for us - we love them! (I recently posted about the logistics of our charts.)
    Have a lovely day!

  2. Thanks Lisa...I'll check it out :)

  3. Thank you for sharing these, Melissa! And I too noticed that section in The Living Page, as well as her discussion of nature study groups and exhibits. I think the link-up is kind of a virtual version of this--I only wish the kids themselves could actually be the ones sharing and chatting about them, as I think that would be a great bonus! :)

  4. Interesting thought Celeste, regarding the kids discussing their timelines!

    Thanks so sharing,

  5. I love the simplicity of your BOC! Thanks for sharing,