With all the changes in education and the increasing requirements and standards, it can be easy for non-academic topics to get pushed to the back burner. One of those areas is learning about emotions, what to do with them, and how to have compassion for others. Even our youngest students can be full of big emotions. Sometimes it’s hard for our littles to understand their big feelings. Being a teacher isn’t just about teaching math concepts or grammar anymore, sometimes we have to take the time to teach these other life lessons too! When it comes to learning about some important concepts picture books can be a big help. Today I’m excited to share some ideas and activities for teaching with A Bad Case of Stripes.
A Bad Case Of Stripes by David Shannon
One of my favorite book study units to do with my class is A Bad Case Of Stripes by David Shannon. I’m so excited to share with you how I have used this book to inspire self-love, confidence, and pride in my students. But it doesn’t stop there, we also work on so many important reading skills too!
A Bad Case Of Stripes is a story about a little girl who learns to be happy in her own skin… literally. I love this book so much because it hits on important topics I want my class to learn about. The main character Camilla has to deal with issues revolving around bullying, self-love, individuality, and confidence!
These themes align perfectly with our class mission statement which we create collaboratively during the first week of school. We refer to our class mission statement again and again throughout the school year, and when I have a lesson that aligns with it… BINGO! Connections are made and the learning sticks!
A Bad Case Of Stripes Book Study
When I teach with A Bad Case Of Stripes, I do a book study that stretches out over several days. I love that by focusing on the book for multiple days, my students really dig in the themes, characters and vocabulary at a deeper level. Our book study not only encompasses emotional learning, but also is a great mentor text for many skills, including vocabulary development, sequencing and cause & effect. While it’s perfect as a beginning of the year activity, it can also be used any time of the year.
Day 1: Introduction
I start our A Bad Case Of Stripes Book Study unit by having my students complete the Color by Sight Words activity sheet. Think of it like a movie trailer for an exciting new film coming out this summer. It’s a fantastic way to get students excited and engaged about the book we will be focusing on and introduce them to the main character, Camilla Cream.
Next we begin our book introduction by taking a book walk. I like to get my kids excited about the unit by showing them the cover of the book and walking through some of the pages. This is a great opportunity to work on making predictions as students use the cover and pictures to come up with their ideas of what they think this book is about. They always come up with the silliest explanations for why a little girl would be all covered in stripes with a thermometer in her mouth.
Diving into Vocabulary
Before digging into the book we take a look at some of the vocabulary words from the book. Using an anchor chart is an easy way to introduce vocabulary. By discussing the vocabulary words, definitions, and how they are used in the story, I can help my students with reading comprehension when we read the book for the first time. This anchor chart stays posted in the room and we refer to it throughout our book study. This hands-on activity really helps my students learn the vocabulary words from the book inside and out.
Time to Read!
Read aloud is a favorite activity in our classroom. I love, love, love reading to my students, and they love having me read to them! The first time I read A Bad Case Of Stripes to my kids they are enthralled. They go through so many emotions as they hear about everything that happens to Camilla Cream during her adventure. My kids really immerse themselves into the story, and I have a great time using as much inflection and emotion as possible to bring the characters to life.
The first reading of the story is just a chance to hear the story. If time is available we might talk about some of our vocabulary words, but if not it’s okay. We are just starting and we have lots of time to dig into skills with this wonderful story.
Day 2: Character Traits
I start Day 2 by reading the book A Bad Case Of Stripes a second time. This time I like to ask questions every few pages to do a quick informal check of understanding from my students. I ask questions like, “What do you think will happen next?”, or “How do you think Camilla feels?”. This really helps my students to relate to Camilla and what’s happening to her in the story.
Introducing Character Traits
This is the perfect opportunity for me to get my students thinking about what makes Camilla so unique. I ask students to describe Camilla and I write their answers on the board. After they have given me some words I let them know that they are finding Character Traits. I don’t know about you, but knowing that you are learning something new after you’ve already been doing it makes you feel successful!
I expand a little more on character traits and talk about the difference between physical and internal traits. Most young students have an easier time defining the external traits of a person or character. It’s always easier to do the concrete things you can see, hear, smell, feel or taste. But this internal character traits take a little more practice.
One of the ways I introduce internal character traits is to make it personal. I start by giving some examples about myself and explaining the reasons why I chose those words. For example, I tell my students that I am outgoing. I explain that when I am around people I like to talk and do things. I also like to find people that aren’t talking or seem shy to talk with too.
Then I like to give my students some choices using opposites. I will explain two opposite character traits and then ask my students to choose which one describes them. Once we have done some practice this way, I ask my student to come up with a few internal character traits to describe themselves. Are they outgoing, shy, nervous, excited or even angry?
Connecting Character Traits to the Book
Once students are on a roll, then I have them apply their new learning to the book. Using the character traits anchor chart, we start to document all of the external and internal character traits about Camilla. When we start writing our list of internal traits, I like to break it up into how Camilla felt at the beginning of the story and the end of the story. This lays the foundation for us to later discuss how characters change. When we are finished, we have a colorful poster to hang in our classroom to refer to during the book study.
Next up, students apply what they have learned by creating their own personal character traits chart for Camilla. What I love about this activity is that students tend to naturally work at their own level. Those that might not be so confident in this new skill can use our class anchor chart as a guide. But those that already “have it” are quick to go out on their own and come up with a variety of new character traits too! My students love coloring in Camilla and all her stripes.
Day 3: Sequence Of Events
Day 3 is all about the sequence of events. Before reading our story again, we discuss Sequence of Events. Depending on the time of year I do this book study, this mini-lesson might be an introduction to this skill or review. We focus on using the vocabulary beginning, middle and end. But I also like to get my students ordering the events of the story using ordinal numbers or the words first, next, then, last. By using all of these interchangeably students are able to build a toolbox of vocabulary words for sequencing and summarizing.
I do this sequencing lesson first because I really want my students to use these concepts as their focus during our next reading of the book. When possible I like to change up the reading a little so the students don’t get tired of me reading the story. I found this video read-aloud of the story A Bad Case Of Stripes by the Screen Actors Guild read by actor Sean Astin that my students love!
Sidenote: If you haven’t checked out the selection of read-alouds from the Screen Actors Guild Storyline Online , I highly recommend taking a look. There are so many fabulous children’s books read by famous actors. It’s fun for me to watch with my class too!
After reading or watching the A Bad Case Of Stripes book again, it’s time to have students work independently on their own sequencing activity. If I’m doing this unit as a beginning of the year unit, I will usually have my students work in groups, but give each student their own worksheet to complete. This numbered worksheet for students to practice sentence writing showing the sequence of events from first, next, then, to last is a great resource for students to practice showing the order of events that happened in the story.
Day 4: Let’s Get Crafty
If you’ve been on the Emily Education site for long, then you already know my love for weaving crafts into my lessons. Not only are they a great engaging factor and easy to connect with skills like writing, but there are so many non-academic skills they work on too! Fine motor skills, following directions and creativity are just a few.
My student’s favorite day of the A Bad Case Of Stripes book study unit is craft day for sure! They love to create their very own Camilla that we will use as a page topper. I’ve used this with a writing prompt, to add to the top of our sequencing activity and I’ve even stapled together all of the book activities to make a little book with Camilla at the top. There are so many ways to use this! My students are always so excited to take these home and share their learning with their families. It’s a great way for them to recall what they have learned so far.
Cause & Effect
On Day 4 our reading skills focus is cause & effect. Teaching cause and effect can be tricky, but with a few cleverly designed activities, your students will love learning this important reading comprehension skill.
Like sequencing, this lesson might be a new skill for students or a review. I always begin teaching a skill by making it personal. I’ve found over the years that when students have a personal connection, they learn the skill or concept faster.
After reviewing the concept of cause &effect it’s time to do some cause & effect practice for our book. My students adore this lift the flap activity because it’s an interactive, visual way for them to review cause and effect. I print out the images on brightly colored paper and model how to fold it and paste it to a paper or interactive journal if they have one. Students then cut along the lines in between each picture, flip up the paper and write the effect under the picture. Not only do they work on identifying causes and effect, but students are also able to review key elements of the story with this interactive activity.
Day 5: Social Emotional Learning
Although we have talked generally about feelings and the social emotional aspects of this book, today is the day it becomes our focus. There’s no better way than to make those personal connections to your own experiences. We talk about how Camilla had to be true to herself by admitting that she loved Lima Beans. We also talk about how it is alright to like things that other people don’t like.
I think about some things about me that might be silly or odd and share them with my students. Sometimes, they don’t realize we were kids once and went through many of the same experiences with feeling nervous, uncomfortable, or wanting to be accepted by others.
This usually leads to a special time of sharing. The students love finding out that they are not the only ones that have these feelings. They share ideas on how they work through them. Often new friendships are formed as students realize they have more in common with other students. They don’t even realize it, but by sharing and connecting with what others are feeling they are learning about empathy and compassion too!
Lima Beans For Me Please
After our whole class discussion, everyone is feeling pretty comfortable and confident to share out some of their own unique likes. We now know that we all have things we like or enjoy that other people don’t like – AND that it is OK! We celebrate our differences with the My Lima Beans activity. This cute lima bean-shaped book gets students writing about something they love that might be unique to them. Using the sentence start “I really love…”, students love writing about some of their favorite things. When we are done we always do a sharing activity. Since we have made differences something to celebrate the kids love this sharing time. Not only do they celebrate their differences, but they see how they are all alike in a lot of ways too. It’s a super feel-good activity my students adore!
You didn’t think we would skip assessments did you?
Even though there is a lot going on in this unit, I always like to find an opportunity to assess my student’s learning. By having them complete a Comprehension Tri-Fold, it’s a great opportunity for me to see if they are remembering they key concepts from the story.
- What do you think the author is trying to tell you in the story?
- Why would Camilla not eat Lima Beans?
- What happened after Camilla took all the different colored pills?
- What happened when the experts came over?
This informal assessment not only asks students to answer comprehension questions by writing their answers in complete sentences, but also provides a space for them to illustrate their answer as well.
This isn’t the end though, with one more day to go, I have some surprises in store for my students.
Day 6: Lima Bean Surprise
Do you like Lima Beans?
Believe it or not, most kids have never eaten lima beans before. As a surprise I like to bring in some cooked lima beans for my students to try. When I’m pulling out the container, I always get the crinkled noses, or the skeptical stares, but in the end everyone is curious to try out these fun little beans that Camilla loves so much.
In my classroom when we experiment with food we have one rule – just try it. I tell my students that they don’t have to like it and they don’t even have to swallow it. Everyone gets a napkin and I show they how they can discreetly spit out something they don’t like into their napkin. With the ground rules in place, and permission that trying doesn’t have mean liking, everyone is ready to try the lima beans.
Once everyone has tried them, it’s time for them to record their findings and opinions on the “Do You Like Lima Beans” sheet. The students love writing about their lima bean experience and illustrating their feelings about lima beans.
Book Study Extras!
Can you really read a book about lima beans and not connect it to science? This is a great time to weave in the plant life cycle! This book study includes a non-fiction mini-book all about lima beans and their life cycle. This foldable book includes information about:
- Where Lima Beans came from
- What kind of conditions they need for growing
- How long they take to mature
This book is a great way for me to check their comprehension as well. My students love answering the questions and creating cute drawings of the Lima Bean Plant. If you have the time, growing Lima Beans is a super fun activity to start at the beginning of the unit.
Writing a letter to a book character is a great way to connect reading and writing. This book in particular is great because we have really dig into Camilla as a character. By the time we have unpacked her character traits and connected our differences to hers, she is like family. It’s a great letter writing activity or writing center activity to coordinate with the book study.
I love finding ways to incorporate other subjects into our book study. I use the 100 Chart Mystery Picture as a fun math center during our book study. It’s a great activity that works on number identification and the sequence of numbers. Once they are all done, they will write the name of the mystery person on the blank space provided at the bottom of the worksheet. My students love showing off their colorful pictures when they are done.
A Little Art
This book study unit also includes a fun directed drawing of our favorite striped friend Camilla! What I love about directed drawings is that students can learn how to break down a picture into simple steps as they learn to draw. I have had many students over the years that have developed a love for drawing because of our directed drawing activities.
Fun with Drama
One year, I even wrote a class play adapted from the book A Bad Case of Stripes. I rewrote the book into a script and rewrote popular songs (i.e. Call Me Maybe) to turn it into a mini-musical. It was a total hit! We all had a marvelous time. (Note: Due to copyright laws I am unable to include the play in the book study. If you want more information on how to turn a favorite book into a play just email me!)
I love doing plays because it is a great way to build student confidence. It helps students face a fear of performing in front of an audience. It also helps them with fluency as we practice the script. If you haven’t done a play I totally recommend it!! Check out my post A Bad Case of Stripes, Stand Tall Molly Lou Melon, and The Recess Queen! for more information on our super fun class play!
I recently took many of the book study activities and made digital versions of them. Not only does this give flexibility in when or how to complete them, but it also adds in an easy way to meet some of those technology standards too. There are character trait, sequencing, cause & effect, vocabulary and more fun digital activities that are now part of this book study unit. These digital activities are ready to use in both the Google platform and SeeSaw. Just choose the option that works best for you, or mix and match.
Grab Your Book Study and Get Learning!
Book studies are a fun and engaging way to incorporate many different skills and concepts with one common book. Everything I use (except for the play) is included in the A Bad Case of Strips Book Study. This comprehensive unit will help you fill those lesson plans and excite your students.
If you love teaching with books then be sure to check out my Back To School Book Bundle. This bundle features activities for four books that are perfect for the beginning of the school year! How great would it be to have a huge chunk of those first month or first quarter lesson plans done!
The Back to School Bundle includes activities for the following books:
Save These A Bad Case Of Stripes Book Study Activity Ideas!
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