Teaching The Watsons Go to Birmingham – 1963

The Watsons go to Birmingham - 1963 by Christopher Paul CurtisAre you looking for some ideas to use with The Watsons Go to Birmingham? This post contains several free teaching resources. Download the character trait cards. Try out a novel study sample. Check out lesson plans. It’s all here.

The Watsons Go to Birmingham reads almost like a diary detailing interesting events in the lives of what neighbors in Flint, Michigan call the “Weird Watsons.” The story is told from the perspective of fourth-grader Kenny. Many of his stories detail how Byron, Kenny’s older brother, gets into trouble. Finally,  Momma and Dad are frustrated to the point that they decide to take a family trip to Birmingham. This is where Grandma Sands lives. Bryon is told he is going to live with his no-nonsense, extremely strict Grandma until he can learn to behave.

Free Character Trait Cards

Get the character trait cards here.

Free Character Trait Cards to use with The Watsons Go to Birmingham

Get the cards here. Have students describe each member of the Watson family using these character trait cards. Both full color and black-lined copies are provided. Here are a few details to get you started:   


  • father of three (married to Wilona)
  • jokester – likes to make his family laugh
  • likes to perform for the family


  • mother of three (married to Daniel)
  • caring
  • born in Birmingham, Alabama
  • doesn’t like the cold
  • thinks people are friendlier in Birmingham


  • oldest sibling
  • 13 years old
  • juvenile delinquent
  • likes to bully Kevin
  • proud of his family, but has a difficult time expressing it


  • narrator of the story
  • middle sibling
  • gets picked on
  • smart – Teachers have him read to older students as an example.
  • outsider – not many friends (must give up dinosaurs to play with LJ Jones)


  • youngest sibling
  • gullible – believes Byron’s tall tales

Grandma Sands

  • Wilona’s mother
  • strict disciplinarian
  • lives in Birmingham

Free Samples from The Watsons Go to Birmingham – 1963  Book Unit Free Samples from The Watsons Go to Birmingham - 1963

If you would like to try out The Watsons Go to Birmingham – 1963 Book Unit, this download contains the following samples:

    • Vocabulary Practice for Chapter 1

    • Comprehension for Chapter 1

    • Constructed Response for Chapter 1 – Comparing Byron to Narcissus

    • + A lot of Photos to Show You What is in the Rest of the Unit

The Watsons Go to Birmingham – 1963  Book Unit The Watsons Go to Birmingham - 1963

The Watsons Go to Birmingham – 1963 Book Unit contains graphic organizers for an interactive notebook and game activities covering vocabulary, comprehension questions, constructed response writing, and skill practice.

 Free Resources on the Web 

An Educator's Resource for The Watsons go to Birmingham

This packet was released by the production company that created the Hallmark Channel movie which premiered on September 20, 2013. The resource contains the following:

  • Historical Background Information
  • Writing Prompts for each Chapter
  • Five Text-to-Film Scenes 

A Reading Guide to the Watsons Go to Birmingham-1963This free resource comes from Scholastic. It contains the following:

  • Author Biography
  • Questions for Guiding Reading (3 questions for each chapter)
  • Plot Summary
  • Setting Information
  • Themes
  • Characters

Gay Miller

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