"A Bad Case of Stripes" by David Shannon follows a little girl named Camilla Cream who hides the fact that she likes lima beans so she can fit in. The story touches on the idea of conformity and works with bullying themes. Extension activities maximize the educational value of the book.
Write About It
"A Bad Case of Stripes" sparks many potential writing prompts for the classroom. These activities help the students better comprehend the message in the story while working on their literacy skills. Use the writing prompts as journal topics or as the basis of a separate writing project. Examples of prompts include the meaning of bullying, a time when you didn't feel like you fit in, how students can respect one another and why being different is a positive thing. Another option is to take a creative writing approach. Have the kids write a new adventure for Camilla. Have them write a story about themselves waking up with stripes like Camilla and what the reason for those stripes was. Write about what it would be like if people had stripes.
The colorful and creative nature of the story makes art a natural connection. One option is to have the kids make a picture using stripes in the form of paper strips. Encourage them to use lots of different colors. A similar option is to print a black and white photo of each child on regular printer paper. Let the kids color their faces in stripes. To emphasize the importance of being yourself, have each child draw a self-portrait. Have them include images around the self-portrait that represent what makes them different, such as hobbies or personality traits. Another option is to have the kids design posters about accepting one another and not bullying.
Drama activities work well as a follow up to reading a story. To focus on the meaning and message of "A Bad Case of Stripes," have the students re-enact key points in the story. This helps you determine if the kids get the message. It also helps other students better understand the point of the story. Another option is to use the story as a starting point for role-playing different social situations. Have a group of students act out a situation in which one child is being left out, for example. Role-play how to treat all classmates with respect or how to deal with bullying. These drama activities encourage discuss and brainstorming about how to treat one another.
Shannon's book invites you to explore different emotions with your students. By teaching about feelings, kids learn empathy and sensitivity to others. They also become more in tune with their own emotions so they can better handle them. Brainstorm different emotions people feel. Use situations in the book as a starting point for the list. Choose a few of the emotions as points of discussion. Let the kids share situations when they felt those particular emotions or come up with examples of situations that could cause the emotions. Another way to help the kids notice emotions is to have the students pair off. Have one student model a particular emotion while the other child guesses what the emotion is.
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