Sunday, September 18, 2011

Shannon's Notebooks and What I've Decided for Our Book of Centuries

If you haven't read the last BOC post I did, you can find it here.

Last week we had our Monthly Meeting on the topic of The Book of Centuries and I invited Shannon, a wonderful friend we met through the AO Yahoo groups. She attended one of our meetings a while back - drove all the way from Pasadena, mind you!

She attended the Childlight conference this year after hearing it discussed at the meeting - much like Kristine, and I and Kathy and Connie did after hearing Wendy talk about how eye opening it was for her at a meeting the previous year. Amazing isn't it, how word travels?

She came back from the conference this year and told us that Andra Smith had said she was like our 'child' from California and that next year, there would be grandchildren attending Childlight from California! That Andra, she is so warm and when you meet her, you'll feel like she's known you all along. Lord willing, we're coming next year!!

So Shannon came to the meeting and having attended Laurie Bestvater's class at Childlight, she was quite knowledgeable about the BOC. She even prepared samples of it as well as a Century Chart for us to look over. And wouldn't you know, my camera was completely out of focus :/

I can't recall now if this was the BOC page sample or the Century Chart sample she brought. Maybe someone can clarify in the comments section.

CORRECTION: I spoke with Shannon and this was actually a time-line she got from a pamphlet in the CM Digital Collection titled Notes on Making a Timeline by Winifred Irving. So it appears, please correct me if I'm wrong, that a 'history chart' or 'time chart' as it is both called in the noted pamphlet, and what I noted as a 'century chart' in this post, is a single page the child uses to chart a specific time period they are studying with more space for detail than a timeline or BOC would have. A picture of said chart can be found in the pamphlet linked to above.

What I love about this page is the way she has the reigning Monarchy listed along the margin giving a great visual. From what I was able to gather, the difference between a BOC and a Century Chart is that a BOC is a book the child adds to for all the years of their schooling once it is begun around 4th or 5th grade. The Century Chart, on the other hand, is one page that might have been used for a brief time for the study of a specific time period.

In addition to this page, Shannon also brought a family tree of the Kings and Queens of England that she had made. You'll notice it begins at the bottom and goes up, as a tree would.

This was her copy; her son made his own copy separately. She said having her own copy helped her have more patience with how he made his. She didn't need his to be perfect because she had hers to refer to if she needed. I liked that. And I'm kicking myself now for not having taken pictures of his to show you.

Another interesting thing we discovered was Shannon's nature journal. It drew a crowd to say the least.

On this page, you can see that she meticulously drew the phases of the moon. She said that for one month straight, she would read bedtime stories with her kids every night, then take them outside to draw the moon before they went in to bed. Click on the very out of focus picture to see a larger image.

Here, she drew a picture of the view from her house (I believe). She then drew the sun exactly where it set at that time of the year. Then she went back to the picture at a different time of year and drew in to the very same picture where the sun set then. Fantastic.

I imagine you could do similar things with the location of shadows, the water level in creeks, tide levels at differing hours of the day, the growth in size of a pet, etc.

Touched by an idea :) Thank you so much Shannon! You have just enhanced our nature study exponentially; and actually, Jen has already taken advantage of this idea and scheduled our nature study group to go to the same locations multiple times throughout the year so we can split pages in our journals and draw comparisons. Exciting indeed!

In case you're wondering, these are all Moleskine notebooks Shannon used.

After much thought and having talked with Shannon, I've decided I'm going to use the A4 Moleskine Folio Sketchbook and create our own BOC.

It has a black hardcover that has a nice feel to it and good thick pages, a pocket in the back for maps and things, and an elastic band to hold it shut. Last I checked it was on sale at Amazon for $19.77

She suggested coming up with a template of sorts with the horizontal and vertical line points mapped along the edges on a piece of paper smaller than the notebook pages so I could easily place it on each page and mark them that way. I think I'll use pencil and make faint lines to start because I just don't see my daughter easily being able to figure out where to write in the entries without it.

Another good point Shannon made is that I don't need to complete the whole book right now. I could just do two or three centuries where we would be filling things in now and fill in the rest as needed. I would just need to figure out where that page falls relative to the rest of the book.

Here are Shannon's notes on the BOC page spread within the 96 pages of this notebook. I haven't figured it all out yet, but plan to in the next couple of weeks to finally get my daughter's BOC going.

There were other great resources shared as well. I unfortunately wasn't able to get pictures of everything so if you were at the meeting and have any additional pictures or links to share - email them to me and I'll add them to this post.

Here are Kristn's links which she shared the following day:
Here is the site I was talking about tonight:
And the link to the actual Century Book:
They also are the ones that I got those cut outs for. They do not come colored (I did that) but that could be a project for the kids.
They have some really wonderful hands on ideas too. Check out some of these pages

Let us know what you're doing for BOC in the comments section, we love to hear what you're up to!


  1. Exciting stuff!!! LOVE that nature journal!!! :)

  2. OH MY. I love this post. I love her nature book and I LOVED Laurie's talks... I heard them at the LER. :)

    Full of love, ;)
    amy in peru

  3. oh, and Laurie Bestvater sells her BoC on bookofcenturies.com... they are SO nice.

    I'm about to post on our own BoC made after the Bernau model via Laurie's post :)

    amy in peru

  4. I am eager to see if you have started your new BOC and how it is going. I am glad to see others pondering the BOC question and which way to do it. I am one of those people. Please clarify for me your discovery with Shannon.....is your BOC going to look like the one from the Mason archives with lines on one side with 5 yr increments down the side of the left page and the right page blank for pictures OR are you doing a timeline at the top (or middle) of the page like the one from your homeschoolinthewoods link.
    Eager to know since the school year has started and have not come to a conclusion myself yet as which way to do mine.

  5. Dena, I haven't started yet! Our Moleskine arrived some time ago and it is sitting on my counter :/
    I am planning to do exactly what I mentioned in my post above - namely, leave one side blank, faintly line the other side in pencil. I've been short on time so I plan on getting to it probably over the holidays. I'd like to involve her in the making of the BOC, but also don't want to frustrate her before she even starts with the details of filling in the years, the lines, etc. so... still slightly undecided on that. I've also been itching to do a wall timeline with the reigning monarchy along the edge like Shannon had on hers. In my mind these things seem like major projects while in reality, it would probably take me one afternoon to get most of it done. Here is a great post Amy in Peru did on the BOC that may also be of help: http://fisheracademy.blogspot.com/2011/10/our-book-of-centuries-details.html

  6. I have the opportunity to attend one CM conference next year. Can you help me decide? CMI or LER??

  7. I have never been to LER and I went to CMI once years ago so I'm really not the one to ask. Maybe ask on the AmblesideOnline chit chat forum?

  8. Thanks! I didn't think of that :-)

  9. I love your blog. I wish I was a bit closer, your group sounds wonderful. I'm about 3 hours from you though.