The Watsons Go to Birmingham – 1963

Activities to do with the Novel The Watsons Go to Birmingham-1963

Are you looking for some ideas to use with The Watsons Go to Birmingham-1963? 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.

The Watsons Go to Birmingham Activities

Book Unit Samples

The Watsons Go to Birmingham Activities

You will find the following in this novel study sample:

  • Vocabulary Practice for Chapter 1

  • Comprehension for Chapter 1

  • Constructed Response for Chapter 1 – Comparing Byron to Narcissus

Teaching Idea #1 ~ Character Trait Cards

Character Trait Cards

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


  • the 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

Teaching Idea #2 ~ Movie

The Hallmark Channel created a film based on the novel The Watsons go to Birmingham in 2013 as part of the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Movement. Note: This film is rated PG due to mild language, some violent images, and thematic elements. Watch the film on Vudu which has a 4.5-star rating with over 5,000 votes. The running time is 1 hour and 30 minutes. 

See the product that inspired this post.

The Watsons Go to Birmingham Novel Study

The Watsons Go to Birmingham Novel Study includes vocabulary practice, comprehension questions, constructed response writing, and skill practice.  

Gay Miller

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