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My students recently came up with the idea to screen print t-shirts to raise money for a cause. It all started when I challenged my 8th-grade students with a class project called “You in Society.” For this projects, students had to create an art project that impacted their community through art.
My first class to decide to print t-shirts came from an emotional desire to help out a classmate, who at the time was very sick and waiting for a kidney transplant. Students designed the t-shirts with their classmate in mind. We sold over 100 shirts! The profits from the project went to her and her family. Since this first event, we have screen printed for Relay for Life and other charities.
With a project like this, you want to make sure that you will raise money. Pre-orders let you know how many of each size you’ll need and allow you to collect money up front so you can be sure you’ll be profitable.
You’ll want to help your customers visualize what the finished t-shirt will look like. You can print your design on a flyer, but if you can print a sample t-shirt, even better! I create a pre-order form with spaces for the student’s name, homeroom or advisory teacher (as this is the way most things at the middle school are sorted back to students), t-shirt size, and quantity.
After you collect the money and pre-order form, then you can go and purchase what t-shirt sizes you need. This is the beauty of a pre-ordering. You will have money on hand to purchase the number of t-shirts you will need. You know exactly how many you need and in what sizes! I always grab a few extra, just in case!
After researching various methods I found, Drawing Fluid and Screen Filler. The process is student-friendly and effective. I think students in grades 4-12 could handle this process, but you know your students best!
Check out this great YouTube video that helps to visualize the process:
Prepping the Screen
To finish up, you’ll want to organize the shirts by homeroom and size so you can start delivering them to your customers!
When my students see their designs walking around the school, they feel pretty empowered! As an art teacher, the added work is worth it. Plus, this often is a project that reaches a few of those kids who are otherwise not engaged.
Screen printing for a cause is a win-win. My students get to try out a cool technique at no cost to the art program, and the extra money goes toward a great cause. Students see that they can use art to make a difference in the lives of others. Each year, we bring in a few hundred up to eight-hundred dollars. Wowza! Who knew that making t-shirts would make the world a better place?!
Have you ever tried screen printing with students? Tell us about it!
What questions do you have about the screen printing process?
Magazine articles and podcasts are opinions of professional education contributors and do not necessarily represent the position of the Art of Education University (AOEU) or its academic offerings. Contributors use terms in the way they are most often talked about in the scope of their educational experiences.