A Book of Centuries is the notebook used to scaffold the child's consecutive history learning in a Charlotte Mason classroom. It began as a museum notebook around 1906 and quickly became a staple of Mason's method. It is essentially a hardcover notebook started by the children around age ten that becomes a lifelong history project. It contains a two page spread for each century. One page in each set is blank to receive the child's careful drawings of artifacts he or she encounters from that century (think Grecian urn, celtic cross, weapons, technology etc.) The other side is designed to be a mnemonic grid (think 100 chart without all of the lines--5 columns of 20 spaces) wherein the student enters the one event they think most important from their reading of history for that year. Combined with Mason's idea of reading history, the Book of Centuries is unlike anything else for sorting one's history knowledge, growing attention and creating interest.
We understand that now but the North American community growing up around Charlotte Mason with the publication of the seminal, For the Children's Sake in 1984 and the reprinting of her six volumes of pedagogy only gave hints about the Book of Centuries. With no clear picture, several versions were imagined that were either unwieldy or at cross-purposes with Mason's principles and method. As I committed to assemble the pieces, I began to see, not only a simpler and more elegant Book of Centuries, but a brilliant unity of purpose in Mason and her use of notebooks that would lead to writing The Living Page. Eventually, I was able to confirm my research about the way this unique book was done during the opening ceremonies of the Charlotte Mason Digital Collection at Redeemer University College several years ago and to commission a hand-bound replica. You can read more about the recovery of Mason's exciting educational pillar here and here.
via graphic fairy
via Easy Drawing Guides
When one hasn't access to the artifact itself, Mason suggests drawing from line drawings.
P.N.E.U. stories are told about the anticipation and even ceremony surrounding receiving one's Book of Centuries. It is so gratifying to be hearing such stories again - if it's new to you, welcome to Keeping a Book of Centuries!