There seems to be quite a bit of confusion about when to begin a Century Notebook. In Charlotte Mason’s schools, The BOOK OF CENTURIES was not started until around 5th grade or the age of ten and was kept throughout the remainder of the student's education, being added to as each year progressed. It began with Ancient History, had divisions for major eras and also a division for maps. Each two-page spread represented a century. The student added small, hand-drawn sketches of items from that time period.
In our home school, we do the same with just a few changes. One, being that we allow more pages for later centuries since we have more information to add than the earlier centuries. Also, I have found that a little variety keeps it interesting for the children so we do not just draw objects, but people and events, too. Sometimes, we use stickers we have found (e.g. a crown could represent a king, a sword or gun could represent a war) or we cut out pictures from old history textbooks. (and you thought we didn’t use textbooks in our curriculum ). We keep a picture basket for this purpose. It just has a hodgepodge of pictures and stickers we have run across and saved over the years. The children choose from this if they don’t wish to draw that day.
We chose to make our BOC rather than buy one because each child should have her own copy and that can get expensive. Also, you are very limited in how much you can put on a page and if errors are made they mar the book. With a home made one you can add and take away as much as you like.
There are so many ways to make a Book of Centuries. Many consist of just a blank page with a single line going across but I think high schoolers would prefer this more categorized approach. I will give just a short explanation of ours. I made a handwritten template and photocopied it, but if you are computer savvy you can make a snazzy typed one. (If anyone does decide to make a computer-generated template similar to ours, will you pretty please share it with me?)
Here is a picture of one of my daughter's notebooks:
Notice the left page is divided horizontally into 5 sections:
Wars, Conflicts, Politics
Notable Men & Women
Art and Music
Discovery, Inventions, Technology
(The top line has 10 divisions that are left blank so that you can just handwrite the dates in it as you go) The right page is slightly different; it does not have words on it. You would need to make 70 copies of the left page and 70 copies of the right page; this includes a few extras in case of errors. Insert them into page protectors and place a divider in the back labeled ‘MAPS’. You can also add dividers for major historical eras if you so desire.
Creation until 3000 BC only one two-page spread is needed.
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.
My children have a 30-minute block of time scheduled on Mondays so that they can record people and events that they have studied the previous week into their BOC. If they want to spend more time working on it, they certainly may, but this is done after morning school hours. By the way, whenever they choose to draw an entry, they sketch it on a separate page, cut it out and glue it into the notebook to keep it neat.
Do not limit it to just your history studies, but include scientists, mathematicians, artists and musicians as well. The possibilities are endless. Even mom could keep a century book of her own and then her children would REALLY be motivated.
Hope this is helpful,
Update: Some kind readers have made a Book of Centuries template using the divisions listed above. Go here to download your own copy. Thank you, LoriCarr and MmeLabonte!