A Bad Case of Stripes by David Shannon - Teaching Ideas

A Bad Case of Stripes by David Shannon is a great book for teaching individuality, or being unique. I like to use the word unique because, to me, the sound of it and the spelling really make it a one of a kind word. This book really lends itself to showing students that it is okay to be yourself, to like things that other people may not like, to be good at something that other people may think is strange or different and to not worry about what those people think.

If you search for activities for this book, you will find plenty, but if you want to make your own, to fit with what you are teaching here is a list of reading skills and strategies and some ideas on what you could teach using this book.

Instead of creating my usual skills and strategies packet to go with this book, I took the character trait and created some activities that have to do with being unique, but first here is the information you will need for your lesson planning.

Reading level: 3.5
Theme: individuality
Genre: humorous fiction

Suggested Vocabulary: lima beans, fretting, impress, relieved, ointment, distraction, contagious, prodded, virus, bacteria, fungus, bizarre

Reading skills and strategies:
  • asking questions - {possible questions before}I wonder what made her striped? Is she sick? I think this is going to be a silly story because David Shannon writes silly books. {possible questions during} What made Camilla get stripes? I wonder why her stripes keep changing? What are specialists? I wonder why the old lady thinks she can cure Camilla? {possible questions after} What does eating lima beans have to do with getting a case of the stripes?
  • author's point of view - 3rd person point of view {evidence} have students find 3 examples that show 3rd person.
  • author's purpose -  entertain {evidence} David Shannon is the author and his other books are silly. No body has ever gotten a case of the stripes. How can someone turn into their bedroom. All these things are silly and make an entertaining story.
  • beginning, middle, end - {most important event from beginning} Camilla was too worried about what other people thought of her. {most important event from middle} Every time someone suggested something it happened to her: stripes, bacteria, virus, pills, her room. {most important event from end} The sweet old lady came in and asked Camilla if she liked lima beans. When Camilla finally admitted that she did the lady gave her the lima beans and Camilla changed back to her normal self.
  • cause and effect -  How come Camilla never ate lima beans? because her friends hated them and she wanted to fit in. Why did Camilla scream? because she looked in the mirror and saw the stripes. Why was Camilla relieved not to have to go to school? because she was afraid of what the other kids would say. Why did the Dr. say Camilla could go to school tomorrow? because she was not sick she only had stripes. Why did Camilla's stripes change at school? because the kids kept yelling out different shapes and colors. Why did Camilla turn into a pill? because that is what the Dr's gave her. Why did Camilla start to grow fuzzy little virus balls and squiggly little bacteria tails? because that is what the specialists guessed was Camilla's problem. Why were there reporters in front of Camilla's house? because they wanted to tell the story of "The Bizarre Case of the Incredible Changing Kid". Why did Camilla melt into her walls? because someone said she should become one with her room. Why did the old lady give Camilla lima beans? because Camilla lied about liking them and the old lady thought that if she admitted she liked them she could change back. Why did Camilla not care that the kids thought she was weird? because she ate her lima beans and never got a case of the stripes again.
  • characterization - describe Camilla {looks like, feelings, thoughts, character}
  • classify & categorize - Have your students classify and categorize different shapes. Camilla was covered with many different shapes because of the kids at school.
  • compare & contrast - Camilla and her classmates, Camilla and you, you and a classmate
  • connections - {possible text-to-self connections} Being afraid that people will laugh at you. Liking lima beans. Liking something your friends don't. Being weird.
  • drawing conclusions & inferencing -  Why do you think Camilla got a case of the stripes? {text clues} Camilla likes lima beans but wouldn't eat them because her friends didn't like them. Camilla wanted to fit in. Camilla worried about what other people thought. {what I know} I know that it doesn't matter what other people think. I know that having stripes that change is more embarrassing than saying you like lima beans. {my conclusion} I think Camilla got stripes because she wasn't true to herself.
  • plot - the turning point or climax in the story was when Camilla finally admitted that she liked lima beans.
  • predict - Why do you think Camilla got stripes? What do you think will happen at school? Do you think the specialists will help Camilla? Do you think the experts will help Camilla? Do you think Camilla will ever change back? What do you think the old lady will do to help Camilla? Do you think Camilla cares about what other people think now that she changed back? Why or Why not.
  • problem & solution - {problem} Camilla cared so much about what other people thought of her she got a bad case of stripes. {solution} Camilla finally changed back when she admitted that she liked lima beans.
  • sequencing -  Camilla was worried about not fitting in. Camilla put on a pretty red dress, looked in the mirror and screamed. Camilla got a bad case of stripes. Camilla's mom called the Dr. Camilla went to school and got teased and sent home. The Dr. called in specialists, they turned her into a pill. The Dr then called in the experts, they caused her to have virus balls, bacteria tails and fungus blotches. News reporters wanted to tell the story of "The Bizarre Case of the Incredible Changing Kid". An Environmental Therapist told Camilla to become one with her room, Camilla became her room. An old lady came to the door saying she could help. The old lady offered Camilla lima beans but Camilla refused them. Camilla finally said she liked lima beans and turned back into her old self.
  • story elements - list title, author, character's, setting, beginning, middle, end, or problem & solution.
  • strong thought - the students might have strong thoughts as the experts and specialists come in and keep changing her.
  • summarize - {someone}Camilla {wanted} wanted to fit in with everyone so nobody would laugh at her {but} but she got a bad case of stripes {so} so all the kids laughed at her. {then}Then all these experts and specialists came to help but they couldn't so {finally} finally a little old lady came and helped Camilla change back by having her admit that she liked lima beans.
  Here is the "Unique Activities" activity packet that I created for this book.

Included in the packet is:
* Compare and contrast - 2 different sheets
* I am unique writing & coloring page
* I am unique folding activity
* Story Map folding activity
* A "unique" vocabulary card
* My favorite part of the book writing paper - unique because everyone might have a different favorite part.
* Patterning cards to practice patterns with recording sheet - unique because there are lots of different patterns
* Making number boards plus recording sheet - every number is unique
* Noun, Verb, Adjective, or ABC order cards plus recording sheet for each activity - because all words are unique

Preview pages of the packet.

Some of the completed activities from the packet


 Last but not least a shape sorting FREEBIE.

I have also created a True False Comprehension Game.


Happy reading,


  1. Thanks for sharing! This unit looks terrific! I'm using this book in my classroom on Thursday to teach cause and effect.


    1. Hi Krista,
      It is great for cause & effect that's why I have so many C&E questions listed. Your kids will love the book and your lesson :) Make sure you take pictures and post about it, I would love to see!
      Have fun!

  2. Thank you for all. You are a life saver!

  3. This is exactly what I needed. Awesome !!!


Thoughts and comments are always welcome!