Birds (Vertebrate Cycle)

lyrics by the after-school songwriting crew (3rd, 4th, and 5th grade)
at Pinewood Elementary in Tujunga, CA
to the tune of “Itsy Bitsy Spider”

Every bird has wings, and most of them can fly
Flapping and soaring, you’ll see them in the sky
Penguins are aquatic, they flap beneath the sea
And chicken wings are tasty when they’re barbecued for me

Every bird has feathers to keep them safe and warm
They’re good for insulation from a cold winter storm
Feathers may be camouflaged or may be very bright
The short ones are for warmth and the long ones are for flight

A pair of mated birds finds a place for eggs to lay
Mama lays the eggs, both will guard them night and day
They sit upon the eggs until it’s time for them to hatch
One parent watches the babies while the other finds food to catch

The beak on a bird depends on what they eat
Some are good for catching bugs or tearing chunks of meat
Long for sipping nectar from the blossom of a flower
Or short for biting down with nut-cracking power!


This is part of a song cycle about the five different classes (reptiles, mammals, birds, fish, and amphibians) of the vertebrate phylum, all of them written by a group of kids in an after-school arts program sponsored by the L.A's BEST foundation. They did a ton of research (books, documentaries, etc.) in the process and learned a lot about zoology; they also had fun writing and performing their songs. And yes, some of the details in the song may not apply to *all* bird species, but the main idea we're trying to get at here is that the various classes of vertebrates (as with other animal phyla, and other kingdoms too) have certain distinctive features that can be used to identify and describe them.

Here are some academic content standards from the NGSS, Common Core, etc. addressed by this song.

First Grade:
1-LS1-2. Read texts and use media to determine patterns in behavior of parents and offspring that help offspring survive.
LS1.B: Growth and Development of Organisms. Adult plants and animals can have young. In many kinds of animals, parents and the offspring themselves engage in behaviors that help the offspring to survive.

Second Grade:
2-LS4-1. Make observations of plants and animals to compare the diversity of life in different habitats.

Third Grade:
LS1.B: Growth and Development of Organisms. Reproduction is essential to the continued existence of every kind of organism. Plants and animals have unique and diverse life cycles.
3-LS3-1. Analyze and interpret data to provide evidence that plants and animals have traits inherited from parents and that variation of these traits exists in a group of similar organisms.
LS3.B: Variation of Traits. Different organisms vary in how they look and function because they have different inherited information.
3-LS4-3. Construct an argument with evidence that in a particular habitat some organisms can survive well, some survive less well, and some cannot survive at all.

Fourth Grade:
4-LS1-1. Construct an argument that plants and animals have internal and external structures that function to support survival, growth, behavior, and reproduction.

All Grades:
-Participate in shared research and writing projects.
-Patterns in the natural and human designed world can be observed and used as evidence.
-Scientific Knowledge is Based on Empirical Evidence; scientists look for patterns and order when making observations about the world.