Guts Project – Directions for the Teacher
You are sure to generate enthusiasm for your lessons and this project if you create and wear your own guts project when you introduce body systems and their functions. You can think of your guts shirt or apron as a “wearable anchor chart” and reference the organs as you teach circulatory, respiratory, and digestive systems. Students will be excited when they find out they will have the opportunity to create their own guts project as part of their anatomy learning.
Decide beforehand if you want students to create a shirt or apron. My recommendation is to go with the apron if human anatomy and body systems are something you teach in the first part of the school year. The aprons can serve as their lab apron for the remainder of the year and is theirs to take home at the end of the year. If your unit falls into the second semester, the guts shirt project is a fabulous way to get students excited and engaged during a time when many attention spans are waning.
Check out the collecting money and ordering form examples in Resources section on this page. This form explains the project and related cost. I provided four Microsoft Word versions so you can choose the one that works best for your class and edit to your specifications before printing copies for the class.
* Personal testimony – This project has been used by teachers in classrooms across the United States, including schools who have the majority of their students considered low socio-economic status disadvantaged students. Collecting money ($6 for a shirt or $7 for the apron) has been met with minimal resistance from students and parents. I believe this is due to the excitement students have for actually creating a project that will be theirs to keep and wear along. In addition, because the project is completed in class, it rids the parent of “project supervision and material” stress.
Teach your unit.
The wearable project may be used to extend, wrap-up, or as part of your assessment of student learning.
Once you feel confident your students have grasped the basic knowledge of the respiratory, circulatory, and digestive systems (know the organs, functions, and how the systems relate to each other), copy and distribute the Guts Human Anatomy Plan Sheet (pdf) >. I use this as one form of assessment. The student plan is a paper copy of the design’s outline that is prescreened on the shirts and aprons. Students complete their “test” with a pencil by labeling each of the organs. In addition, you could have them write the function of each organ on the back and classify the organs by system. Have crayons or map pencils available so they can color the organs. Coloring the organs gives them the opportunity to experiment with colors as they envision what “their guts” will look like on their project
Collect and assess the plan, checking for proper labeling and spelling and provide for re-teaching/re-testing (correcting) opportunities.
Creating the Guts Shirt or Apron — This project can be completed in two to three 45 minute classes.
Supplies Part I:
> Student plan sheet
> Guts apron or t-shirt
> Extra-fine or fine black sharpie marker for labeling organs (1/student)
> Large piece of butcher paper, poster board, smooth cardboard, or foam board (1/student)
> Jumbo paper clips, bulldog clips (4/student)
> Fabric markers for coloring (1 set per group of four)
> Optional: Anatomy Quotes and optional clipart images (explained below)
Return checked plan sheets to students for use as their reference while working on their garment.
Distribute the garments and have students neatly write their full name with a sharpie marker in a predesignated area. (I usually designate the inside bottom seam of shirts and bottom right-hand corner of aprons).
Have students place a folded sheet of butcher paper or poster board under the fabric to prevent marker bleed-through. Using clips, secure the fabric and paper together to prevent slipping. *Helpful tip for using markers on t-shirt fabric – Since t-shirt fabric is stretchy; some teachers prefer having students insert a ½ sheet of foam board inside their shirt, centering the area to be designed over the foam. Demonstrate how to smooth the fabric over the board taking care to make the fabric is taut before securing with clips. This makes the fabric a bit easier to label and color with the markers. The foam boards found at discount stores such as Dollar Tree can be cut in ½ and the boards are easily stored and reused!
With their plan sheet at their table as a reference, students use the fabric markers to neatly color all the organs. After the organs are colored, label each with a fine tip black sharpie. Optional recommendation: I like to provide a variety of optional quotes and clipart images so students can “embellish” their projects and make it a true, one-of-a-kind masterpiece. I have included examples you can download and print in the RESOURCES section. Print enough clipart so that you have a variety from which students can pick and choose, if they wish to add to their project. The quotes and images are easily traced with a fabric marker by placing the image under the fabric.
Heat Set the Marker – You will need to decide in advance if you are going to have your students do their own heat-setting or have an adult volunteer do this, depending on the age of your students.
When all labeling and coloring has been completed, the paper and clips are removed from the project and the marker on the fabric will need to be heat set. There are two ways to heat set fabric marker colors.
1. Set an iron to the cotton setting. Place the shirt or apron on a flat surface. Lay a piece of fabric (like a tea towel or pillow case) over the areas that were designed with markers. Iron over the fabric covering the project, using a back and forth motion, for 4 minutes.
2. You can heat set by placing the project in a clothes dryer set on the hottest setting for 30 minutes.
*My tried and true method for heat-setting is #1. By making the use of the iron a part of the science safety skills I teach (handling hot objects), I have allowed students as young as grade 5 do their own heat setting.
*If you do not want to use paint as described in Part II, the projects are complete.
Washing and Care Information
The color may bleed through during the first wash. To prevent bleeding during the wash cycle, instruct students to wash the garment in cold water separately and machine dry as soon as the wash cycle completes.
Part II (Optional)
Providing iridescent glitter fabric paint is optional, but highly recommended! The paint is added after heat-setting the fabric marker. No additional heat-setting will be required.
Supplies Part II:
> Completed apron or t-shirt project
> Large piece of butcher paper, poster board, smooth cardboard, or foam board – saved from Part 1 (1/student)
> Jumbo paper clips or bulldog clips saved from Part I (4/student)
> Q-tips (disposable paint applicators) 1/student
> 1 oz. condiment cup or square of aluminum foil for paint 1/student
> Iridescent/diamond glitter fabric paint (available at Walmart and other hobby stores)
Students reuse the paper/board and clip to set-up their project as they in Part I.
Provide each student with a Q-tip and small cup or piece of foil with a quarter size “glob” of diamond fabric paint
Instruct students to use their Q-tip paint applicators to dab and spread iridescent paint (clear fabric paint with tiny bits of iridescent glitter) over the top of any areas they colored where they want to add a bit of sparkle. The iridescent paint dries clear and quick.
Teacher tip: Avoid paint waste and “glitter frenzy” by controlling the amount of glitter paint each student receives. When done, students dispose of their Q-tips and foil. If you use condiment cups, encourage students to use up the paint you gave them and save the cups for reuse. Allow condiment cups to completely dry before stacking and storing.