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 that 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 nearly impossible. But we are here to help!

How 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 the Orange, Yellow and Red levels, we expect the parent will be reading the books out loud to the child. In upper levels, the books may be read by the child or the parent. If your child can write there are activities to practice their writing in Orange levels and up. But it is not required until the child is ready. This also makes it possible to use the programs with multiple children while assigning older students more challenging tasks.

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.

Finding Your Child’s Color Level

Each color in our color-coded level system has a suggested age range. For example, the Wonderful World program is recommended for ages 4 to 8. The Farm Unit Study 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 placement in 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 3-6
  • Picture books
  • Simple concepts and themes young children can relate to
  • Songs and nursery rhymes included
  • Gross motor games for developing bodies
Farms Unit Study Cover Art


  • Ages 4-8
  • Picture books
  • Tangible topics
  • Songs and rhymes for memory work
  • Hands-on science activities
  • Fine motor activities to prepare for writing
Wonderful World Cover ArtFoundations and Fundamentals Cover Art


  • Ages 6-10
  • History-based picture books
  • More complex ideas and discussion topics
  • Short phrases or quotes for copywork
  • More emphasis on fine motor activities and writing readiness.
Native American History Cover ArtAmerican History Cover Art


  • Ages 8-12
  • Historical Fiction Chapter book unit studies
  • Lessons introduce abstract ideas and critical thinking skills
  • Challenging hands-on activities
  • Lessons help build confidence and independence.
Children of the Longhouse Cover ArtKing Arthur Cover Art


  • Ages 11-15
  • Chapter book unit studies with more complex themes including coming-of-age stories
  • Lessons include complex discussion questions that may not have an easy answer and require thought and debate
  • Life skills that appeal to middle school-age kids are part of these programs
  • Books may include more mature themes such as death, love, and what makes a family


  • Ages 14-18
  • High School level programs
  • These books have more complex themes and ideas. Historical and fictional events that include religion, and government.
  • Debates about right and wrong
  • Go-along projects are also more complex for older students and require more time and effort

Do you need to move through the colors in order?

Our programs are designed to work for a variety of ages in whatever order makes sense to you!  While you can do Red before Orange, you can also choose to use Orange for a school year and use a short Red unit over the summer. If you try out our Children of the Longhouse Unit Study and your child wants to learn more about Native Americans, you can follow it up with the American History: Indigenous People of North America and Hawai’i lessons.

The Orange Levels can be completed in any order that works best for your child.  While Foundations & Fundamentals is a program that builds on itself and needs to be completed in order, Wonderful World is composed of several smaller units that can be completed in any order that works for you.  Because Foundations & Fundamentals teaches the skills of early reading and writing, your child will need to be able to hold a pencil correctly before starting that program.

Flexibility is key.

Our programs are designed to become gradually more challenging as you move up through the color system. But that doesn’t mean you need to just keep moving up and up.  The suggested age ranges overlap. The activities are adaptable and many have suggestions for making them simpler or more challenging. So you can tailor the lesson to your child.

Children at one end of an age range or with some learning differences may be most comfortable firmly in one level at a time.  But some children can who can do the work in the Green Level enjoy and learn from both Yellow and Orange. Our programs are designed to give you the power to work at your child’s best level.

Black Friday Sale going on NOW! Use code blackfriday2023 to get 25% off all our products.

Happy spring! Everything is on sale.
Use coupon code springtime2024 to get 20% off your entire order.

Everything is on sale! Use the code back2school to get 20% off your order at checkout.