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WFMW — Century book

February 21st, 2012

While not consistent with it, we have appreciated the concrete visual of timelines in our homeschool.

I initially tried a scroll timeline that we would unroll and roll up as we added new events and people, but it was so long, that it got quite crumpled over the few years that we used it. And I never got it up on the wall as I intended. Even if I had the “clutter” on the wall probably would have bothered me after a few weeks.

Since then we have switched to a book of centuries which is much neater and has worked well to keep track of our dates and important people.

The one problem with a book of centuries is that they too become rather long or the pages get congested as you include all the major events in a time period. I had heard many people talk of adding on to the pages and decided to give this a try.

However, I came across an easier way to do this. While perusing a used homeschool curriculum sale last spring I found someone selling a book of centuries just like mine partially filled in for just $2, and including some timeline figures that I did not have already in place. I decided to buy the book, cut it apart and combine the two books into one.

First, I pulled out the spiral binding so I had one of the books in just loose pages. I took those pages and cut them all to remove the holes and make them just slightly smaller than the pages in the other book which was still intact.

Then I grabbed a sturdy roll of packing tape and began the process of taping a second page onto the top of each page of the book. I only taped one side, and then folded the second page onto the lower page to close the book.

Taping them carefully, I lined up the outer edges of the pages to remove as much bulk as possible from the spiral area.


When closed, the second page appears upside down on the first page, but flips open to reveal the full details of the time period.

This was an inexpensive and fairly easy way to double the space of my book without maintaining two separate timelines. If you aren’t fortunate to find someone getting rid of their timeline for cheap you can easily do this with blank paper or cardstock as well.

You can purchase premade century books from Simply Charlotte Mason or Sonlight (the one I use, pictured above, is from Sonlight).

Simply Charlotte Mason also has a free downloadable one that you can print out and compile yourself.

Various places sell the timeline figures as well. We have used some from Sonlight, but have also made our own. To make your own simply find the figure cut and paste into a word doc and write below it the desired caption. You can print onto cardstock and cut and glue into your timeline. Or, you can print on stickers or labels made for your printer. Then cut them out and stick them right into your book. Again, we have done some of each.

Once a week or so, we compile our new timeline figures and get them fixed in place on the appropriate page in our book. Everyone gets a turn, and we share the work of maintaining a timeline.

However you choose to do it, I hope you will find helpful how we have made the book of centuries work for us.

Works for me Wednesday — Homeschool Tracker

February 7th, 2012

This year with the advent of high school for my oldest I really needed a method to keep  better track of, well, everything. Grades, attendance, transcripts, course materials, book lists, etc.

During the summer I got really serious about finding a workable method for record keeping and what I found was exactly what I needed, in Homeschool Tracker.

We first downloaded the free version to make sure that I liked it. Played with that for about 6 weeks of summer school and I knew it was a keeper, so we jumped in and bought the full version, and now I tell everyone I meet about my new brain.

Why I love it so much:

- Does way more than I ever need it to do. This is a good thing. Because, some day I might just get the urge to put all my homeschool books in one list or write out detailed lesson plans or have a weighted grading scale. But, for now, I can pick and choose the features that I choose to use, and the rest just sit there quietly until I decide to use them or not.

- Prepares my assignment sheets for me. At the beginning of the school year and again over Christmas break I put in a bunch of hours logging all their assignments for the months ahead. Yes, that was a monumental task. Think 5 kids times about 7 subjects each times about 200 days of school. Yeah, a little crazy, but the program makes it as easy as possible. Now, all I do is select all the students and print out the sheets two weeks at a time. I could print the whole year, but I like to do a couple at a time because invariably I change something over the course of a week or two and I would hate to have to hand-write all those changes. Each weekend, or Monday morning depending on how things go, I print out everyone’s sheets, punch holes in them and they put them in their binders. Then, as I come around to work with them individually we pull out the binder and know exactly what needs to get done today and all week.

- Easy to reschedule. Life happens, sometimes a little too often. Kids get sick, relatives drop in, an assignment takes longer than anticipated, a concept needs extra teaching, kids fly through what you thought would take a week, books get lost, and sometimes the teacher gets sick. With a few clicks you can reschedule all assignments for all the kids or pick and choose what subjects and what kids need some rescheduling.

- Grades are figured automatically. All I needed to do was each week spend about 20 minutes (for all 5 kids, if you have fewer in school this would be even quicker, it takes me less than 5 minutes per kid) putting in their grades for the week and I have report cards ready made at the end of each quarter to go get their rewards from Chuck E Cheese.

- Not just about grades. As I mentioned this program does way more, and you can use any or all of the following features: track attendance, keep a reading log, record assignments and grades, write lesson plans, track goals, record school info, catalog your home library,  and print reports for any or all of those things.

This program has surpassed my expectations for a record keeping program and made it so painless. Yes, it took a little bit to get the hang of it, but they have an online forum on their site that can answer all of your questions and then some. I also made some silly mistakes while learning and spent extra time fixing said mistakes and getting back on track. But, now it is such a huge time saver and I have all their records in one place, saved and backed up every five days without another thought.

Why you should definitely try the free demo first:

- I will readily admit, there is a huge learning curve with this one. There are so many features, and it is a little old school in its on screen presentation, but it can do anything you want it to, you just need to learn how to work it.

- I’m sure it’s not for everyone. Although for me it was love at first download, it might not float your boat. So, check it out, but don’t say I didn’t warn you. It is amazing!

I can’t say enough about how much I have enjoyed using Homeschool Tracker Plus. I am thrilled to pieces with this program.  You can check out the basic edition for free, and you can try the plus edition for $5 for 30 days. If you do decide to buy, pleas use my referral code: U33EH and I’ll get a little bonus for referring you. :) Hope it is a help to you as much as it was for me.

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