A Bad Case of Stripes

a bad case of stripes

Photo Credit: Scholastic

by Wendy Jeffries, TasteWise Kids Executive Director


Recently, my daughter asked me to read A Bad Case of Stripes by David Shannon during read aloud time in her kindergarten class. I’m so glad that she did as it’s a great story and also happened to spark some fun ideas of how we might use this book as we develop some new workshops for younger kids. Since I know many of us are always looking for new books and ways to use them to extend learning – whether at home with your kids or in your classroom – I thought I’d share.


The Book

Camilla Cream loves lima beans, but she never eats them. Why? Because the other kids in her school don’t like them. Camilla Cream is very worried about what other people think about her, but at the very moment she most wants to fit in, she becomes completely covered in colorful stripes! Worse yet, she seems to change colors to match whatever is happening around her. When the class says the Pledge of Allegiance, she turns red, white, and blue! Instead of blending in, she’s standing out. Specialists are called but the situation goes from bad to worse. Isn’t there anyone who can help Camilla remember what it means to be herself?

Source of Summary: Scholastic


Sparking conversation

Scholastic offers a good lesson plan for Pre-K thru 2nd grade which focuses on learning to respect and accept differences in others. While this is of course very important, and a skill we want all of our students to learn, I thought it would be fun to use this book to talk more explicitly about different food preferences. After all, it starts with Camilla liking lima beans. How many of us think of lima beans as one of our favorite foods? Also, while this lesson is definitely important for our younger friends, kids of all ages would benefit from reminders of “don’t yuck my yum” as we say at TasteWise Kids.

So here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • learn about lima beans: given it’s an uncommon food, share some fun facts about the lima bean. For example, did you know that Lima beans are also known as “butterbeans” due to the taste of them cooked resembles butter?
    • for younger children, have them draw a picture of lima beans and write a sentence with one fact they learned
    • for older children, they could write a story about lima beans using some of the facts that they learned.
  • uncommon food exploration: Brainstorm as a group about other foods that students like that may not be common to all. This is a great way to learn about favorite family foods and traditions. For example, growing up my sister loved artichokes thanks to our Italian grandmother and drew a picture of it for an “A” word in Kindergarten. Her teacher had never heard of it and thought she had made it up. Or you could use a list and pictures like this one as a starter to see if anyone has heard of some of these fun, uncommon fruits and vegetables.
    • for younger children, you could keep a tally of how many people have heard of (or tried?) each one
    • for older children, they could research one of these uncommon foods and share what they learn. Or they could find a recipe that includes the food as a main ingredient
    • you could also use a map of the world and identify where some of these fruits or vegetables most often grown/from
  • Don’t yuck my yum: talk about the importance of being respectful about friends’ food choices/preferences. Practice phrases that could be said instead of “that’s gross/weird/etc.” This is also a good way to help kids understand that some people have dietary restrictions and so sometimes individuals don’t have a choice about eating something that might seem unusual or different.
    • you could create an “alternative phrase” poster with the phrases that can be hung up in the classroom/at home

If you use one of these ideas, we would love to hear how it went. Or have another book that have sparked conversation and/or learning for you and your kids related to food and healthy choices that we should know about?

Please send us an email or post it to our FaceBook page so we can all learn – we would love to do a follow post with all your great ideas.