In my proactive search for cool hands-on science activities, I came across this blog post that explains (with free printable templates) how to make a t-shirt with a realistic drawing of human internal organs on it. While the kids already know basically what their heart, lungs, and stomach look like and where they are located, I thought this activity would be a great way to help them remember the names and locations of some of the organs they might not be as familiar with, such as the pancreas, appendix, and spleen.
To do this project, I bought white long-sleeved kids’ undershirts, which came two in a pack and were less expensive than regular shirts. Since I wasn’t sure how excited the kids would be about going around town with their organs in full view, I thought they could just use them as pajama shirts or for wearing around the house (especially when we are doing science together!) The t-shirts could easily have been short-sleeved, but since it’s winter I thought that long-sleeved would be cozier. I printed out the templates from the website on white card-stock. The templates were two pages so I stapled them together to make the full picture. Then I inserted them inside the t-shirts so that the picture was where we wanted the drawing to be when it was done.
The kids then used fine-tip black permanent magic markers to draw the outline of the organs. Since the card stock paper was in between the two layers of the shirt, it kept the pen from bleeding through to the other side. The t-shirt really needs to be white so that you can see through to the template underneath. This part of the project was a little bit tricky because depending on the light in the house it was harder or easier to see through to the picture on the template. Austin and Ethan moved around to different locations until they found a spot where they could see best. They also had to be very careful not to move the template if they moved the shirt so that the picture would end up in the right spots.
After the kids finished tracing the organs the best they could, they used another copy of the picture that I printed out that had the organs labled (also from the same website). This helped them see where the different organs began and ended. They then colored the different parts their colors of choice using fabric markers and fabric crayons I had gotten on Amazon Japan. With both the markers and crayons, you have to place a piece of paper over the colored places and then iron it for a bit to make the color permanent when you have finished coloring.
We all really like how the t-shirts turned out and they came in very handy when we were reading about digestion the other evening! When the book mentioned a certain body part involved in digestion, I had them find it on their t-shirt. We also used our science textbook’s description of where each body part is located to see if their t-shirts placed their intestines, heart, stomach, etc. in anatomically correct locations. They weren’t perfect (the amount of intestines is a bit less than in a real human body) but they were pretty close!
All in all it was a worthwhile project that will hopefully help our anatomy studies “stick” in their brains better this year. Katie was actually so excited about her t-shirt that she wore it to school and showed it off to all of her friends and teachers! So, I’m calling this project a success!