Big Cats
by Pacoima Charter Elementary School

To the tune of “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star”

Here’s a song about big cats
They live in different habitats
The mountain and desert are really fine
If you are a mountain lion
African lions don’t like Montana,
They’d rather live in the savannah

Every cat’s a carnivore
That’s what their claws and fangs are for
The tiger likes to stalk his prey
And leaps before it runs away
The jaguar will quietly creep
And catch her prey while they’re asleep

Every cat’s a mammal too
They’re warm blooded just like you
They have fur that you can rub
Mama cats make milk for their cubs
Cats are really cool, and that’s
Enough to know about big cats.


Our team has been working for two months on developing an organized approach to writing original lyrics to tunes we already know. Working together, the students researched, organized, drafted, and polished three excellent songs on their chosen theme of large predators.

Note that the structure required for writing a song (theme, verse, chorus, etc.) naturally teaches the same organizing structure we want them to use for ANY writing assignment in third grade and above: topic, paragraphs, supporting details, logical conclusions, etc. This is not just a music project, it is first and foremost a WRITING project.

Here are a few of the academic content standards we addressed:

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.3.8: Describe the logical connection between particular sentences and paragraphs in a text (e.g., comparison, cause/effect, first/second/third in a sequence).

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.3.8: Recall information from experiences or gather information from print and digital sources; take brief notes on sources and sort evidence into provided categories.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.4.5: Explain major differences between poems, drama, and prose, and refer to the structural elements of poems (e.g., verse, rhythm, meter) and drama (e.g., casts of characters, settings, descriptions, dialogue, stage directions) when writing or speaking about a text.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.4.2: Determine the main idea of a text and explain how it is supported by key details; summarize the text.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.4.3d: Use concrete words and phrases and sensory details to convey experiences and events precisely.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.5.4: Determine the meaning of general academic and domain-specific words and phrases in a text relevant to a grade 5 topic or subject area.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.5.1a: Introduce a topic or text clearly, state an opinion, and create an organizational structure in which ideas are logically grouped to support the writer’s purpose.

Of course, the students also dug into the life science standards through writing about zoology.

My congratulations and thanks to the kids for all their hard work!

-Tim Griffin