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Activity Overview

In this activity, students will depict the characters of the story, paying close attention to the physical characteristics and character traits of both major and minor characters. Students will also provide detailed information about the characters’ actions and how they influence other characters. Additionally, students will recognize how specific characters change over time and identify the challenges each character faces in the story.

The Watsons Go to Birmingham - 1963 Characters:

  • Kenneth
  • Byron
  • Joey
  • Daniel and Wilona Watson
  • Mrs. Sands
  • The Wool Pooh
  • Rufus Fry
  • Buphead

Template and Class Instructions

(These instructions are completely customizable. After clicking "Copy Activity", update the instructions on the Edit Tab of the assignment.)

Student Instructions

Create a character map for the major characters.

  1. Identify the major characters in The Watsons Go to Birmingham - 1963 and type their names into the different title boxes.
  2. Choose a Storyboard That character to represent each of the book characters.
    • Select colors and a pose appropriate to story and character traits.
  3. Choose a scene or background that makes sense for the character.
  4. Fill in the text boxes for Physical/Character Traits, How does this character change over time? and What challenges does this character face?.

Lesson Plan Reference

Switch to: Common CoreArizonaCaliforniaColoradoFloridaGeorgiaIowaKansasMarylandMassachusettsNebraskaNew JerseyNew YorkNorth CarolinaOhioOklahomaPennsylvaniaTexasUtah


(You can also create your own on Quick Rubric.)

Character Map Template
Create a character map of the characters in the story. Put the character's name in the title boxes and choose a character and scene to represent each one. As you read, take notes on the characters by answering the questions.
33 Points
25 Points
17 Points
Character Picture & Scene
The characters and scenes are both appropriate for the book's characters.
Many of the characters and scenes match the book's characters.
More than half of the characters and scenes do not match the characters in the book.
Accuracy of Notes
Most of the information of the notes is correct.
Many of the notes have correct information, but some are incorrect or missing.
Less than half of the information of the notes is correct and relevant.
Work is complete, thorough, and neat.
Most of the sections of the character map were at least attempted and work is presentable.
Character map is unfinished and/or disorganized.

How To Help Students Analyze Character Development in “The Watsons Go to Birmingham”


Introduce Character Development

Introduce to the students the concept of character development. Tell them how this aspect of the story is vital and present in every story. Ask the students to recall if they have ever seen a character change in any book, movie, or series. Describe how the development focuses on depth, personality, and motivations which helps build the resolution.


Examine the Characters

Help the students identify the main characters present in the story. Conduct a discussion regarding the role and significance of each character in the narrative. Teachers can discuss the initial traits and motivations of the characters and how they interact with different elements of the narrative.


Determine Significant Events

Ask students to identify crucial points in the book where the characters make crucial decisions or go through major transformations. These pivotal moments frequently have a significant impact on character development. Students can also use a graphic organizer to analyze the impact of each turning point on all the characters. For instance, how did the church bombing change Kenny, Byron, and Joey?


Track Changes and Progress

Students should be encouraged to observe how the characters' actions and demeanor evolve throughout the narrative. What experiences or events are responsible for these changes? Made a progress map of how the characters evolve throughout the narrative and the major reason behind each change.


Analyse in a Broader Context

Encourage the students to think about how the novel's overall meaning and message are impacted by the characters' growth. Ask the students to share their perspectives and opinions and conduct a class discussion to cover and summarize all aspects.

Frequently Asked Questions About “The Watsons Go To Birmingham” Characters

Who are the key characters present in the story?

Kenny Watson, the main character in the book, along with his siblings Byron and Joetta, Momma and Daniel Watson, and Grandma Sands (Daniel Watson's mother Sandra) are all major characters who contribute towards the major events of the story.

How Kenny’s character evolves throughout the story?

As the book progresses, Kenny experiences substantial character growth. His awareness of his family and the world around him deepens, as he acquires valuable life lessons and grows more bold. He also gets closer to his family and forms important relationships, especially with his older brother by the end of the story.

What are the key character traits of Byron?

Byron is first seen as an elder brother who is cunning, rebellious, and rough. There are times when he seems protective and kind, yet he also taunts and insults Kenny frequently. However, as the story progresses, he becomes more caring and helps his siblings through hard times.

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