Color Levels, not Grade Levels

Here at Five Senses Literature Lessons, we have decided to move away from traditional grade levels. Instead, we choose to focus on skills and abilities. We developed a color-coded level system which will help you to see quickly how difficult a program is and pick the right one for your child.

Not all children are ready for the same activities at the same age, the way grade levels imply. Many schools now label children before first grade if they are not ready to read and write. If your child isn’t ready or interested in those skills, finding a curriculum that works is near impossible.

Finding the right level in the color-coded level systemHow the Color-Coded Level System works

Our color-coded level system will allow you to find the right level for your child. We provide activities in literature, language arts, science, math, social studies and other areas, without asking children to read or write during the early years. In all current levels, we expect the parent will be reading the books out loud to the child. If your child can write there are activities to practice their writing. But it is not required until the child is ready.

Go-along activities have been tailored to match the suggested skill and age range of the color. As you move along the color-coded level system, the activities require more fine motor skills, longer attention spans, and more comprehensive problem-solving skills. You’ll always have the option to tailor the activity to your child’s needs and abilities. Our programs include recommendations and guidelines on how to modify activities to support a wide range of developmental needs.


Each color in our color-coded level system has a suggested age range. For example, the Wonderful World — Level: Orange program is recommended for ages 4 to 8. The Farm Unit Study — Level: Red is recommended for ages 3 to 6. But please remember that there is nothing wrong with doing a program on the upper end of the range or beyond. One child could use programs and activities from multiple color levels at the same time and in any order. Education is not a race to be won, but a beautiful journey we take with our children.

In addition to each age range specified for each level, we’ve indicated a set of skills the child should have before starting that level. The skills we are looking for aren’t always obviously academic. We are looking for developmental readiness to determine on our color-coded level system. There are several different signs to look for. Children grow and develop at different rates and it is important to look at different indicators to get the best picture of your child’s readiness. The color-coded level system is a guide, not a rule.

The Color Levels


· Ages 3 to 6
· Picture books
· Simple concepts and themes young children can relate to
· Songs and nursery rhymes included
· Gross motor games for developing bodies


· Ages 4 to 8
· Picture books
· Tangible topics
· Songs and rhymes for memory work
· Hands-on science activities
· Fine motor activities to prepare for writing


· Ages 6 to 10
· History-based picture books
· More complex ideas and discussion topics
· Proverbs or Quotes for copy work
· More emphasis on fine motor activities and writing readiness.


· Ages 8 to 12
· Historical Fiction Chapter book unit studies
· Lessons introduce abstract ideas and critical thinking skills
· Challenging hands-on activities to build confidence and independence.

If you have any questions at all, please contact us.. We’d love to help you find the best level for your child.

Want to try out one of our programs before you buy?

We have sample lessons of our Yellow and Orange levels available for download. Try it out and see what a developmentally-appropriate, hands-on, engaging education looks like.

Laura Sowdon, OTR #5SLL #5sensesLL #normalisoverrated

About the Author

Laura Sowdon, OTR/L is an occupational therapist, writer, speaker, educator and creator of the Five Senses Literature Lessons homeschool curriculum. She has worked as an occupational therapist with children in public and private schools, as well as private practice. Laura has taught and managed homeschool co-ops as well as homeschooling her own three children. Laura is dedicated to the idea of educating children at a pace that aligns with brain and physical development milestones and respects neurodiversity in all its forms.

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