Grade: Elementary
Subject: Geography

#609. Gila Monsters Meet You at the Airport

Geography, level: Elementary
Posted Thu Aug 27 15:35:52 PDT 1998 by Susan Nixon (
Cartwright School, Phoenix, USA
Materials Required: See below
Activity Time: See below
Concepts Taught: See below

Gila Monsters Meet You At the Airport
Susan Nixon
Grade 2
Cartwright School District
AzGA Teacher-Consultant


Young students need to build a foundation for understanding of the 5 themes of geography.
To help them build that foundation, primary teachers must find literature which brings the
themes to their level. By building this foundation in the early grades, students will be
able to use the themes in later grades to establish an understanding of geographic information.


This activity will help students understand regions.


Regions Theme, National Geography Standards 4 & 6
As part of an integrated unit - Math, Science, Language Arts




2 class periods


Gila Monsters Meet You At the Airport by Marjorie Sharmat
Venn diagram drawing Arizona/New York State outlines, overlapping
plain white paper or pre-drawn t-chart


(1) A region has unique physical and human characteristics.
(2) A region may be perceived differently by people of different cultures or experiences.


Students will compare and contrast the unique physical and human characteristics of two regions.


Students will listen to the story Gila Monsters Meet You At the Airport and focus on the characteristics
of the two locations of the story (out west and back east).

Students will brainstorm the characteristics of each of the two places mentioned in the story.

Students will discuss the ways in which the places are the same and how they are different.

Students will work in pairs to make Venn diagrams of the two regions of the story. (One diagram per child,
but they may work together.)


Monitor and adjust student discussions.

Students will turn in one Venn diagram each, showing what is the same and what is different about the two regions.


Students can use this same technique with any two regions they study, for example the desert and the forest; farm
and city (The Day Jimmys Boa Ate the Wash, or Country Mouse, City Mouse); school and home, etc.


Students will compare and contrast the realities of a region with the perceptions story characters had of the region.


Students will discuss a time when they might have worried about moving to a new house, city, state. Share experiences.

Students will listen to the story Gila Monsters Meet You At the Airport a second time, focusing on the misconceptions each
boy had about the new place to which he was moving .

Students will discuss the differences mentioned in the story between what each boy expected and what was true. Where did the
boys get their incorrect ideas?

Students will make a t-chart for each boy, showing on one side what the boy thought, and on the other side, what is real.


Monitor and adjust student discussions.

Students will write a short paragraph comparing and contrasting what they thought
a new place would be like and how it actually turned out.


Before a unit of study, question students to find out what they think a region is like.
Record their responses and then at the end of the unit of study, compare what they learned
with what they thought originally.