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Keywords: T-shirts, Paint, PowerPoint, Word, Marketing
Subject(s): Art, Technology, Writing, Information Skills, Business, Spelling, Grammar, Math
Grades 9 through 12
School: Alexis I DuPont High School, Wilmington, DE
Planned By: Charles Schneider
Original Author: Charles Schneider, Wilmington
A month before Spirit week at school I gather my classes to challenge them to design a t-shirt to market to the entire school. I tell them that as a class we will need to create a t-shirt, contact a vendor, presell, order and distribute the shirt prior to the spirit week pep rally. Each class will pick one shirt and sell it for two days. The goal is to earn "X" amount of money and not bankrupt. You must presell shirts and collect money ahead of time or this lesson plan does not work. Also contact your local PTA or PTSA. Often times they will sponsor the shirts for you or at least the most popular one.

This is a multi day lesson plan that can range days or weeks depending on how in depth you get with each topic because of the broad range of topics. The first day or two is focused on Marketing and determining your target market and product. The next two days focuses on using design software or presentation software to design and create the product. The last two days is spent contacting vendors for pricing and creating a price (including markup) for the product. Then the students begin to create advertising for their products and are given two days to presell their product at which time based on the demand the class decides how many to purchase from the vendor and use the amounts being ordered to renegotiate price.

Day 1: Teach the Marketing Mix to students. Show how to develop a product to reach a target market. In this case their classmates at the school. Show the usefulness of market surveys and intuition in developing a product to meet the needs of the market.
Day 2: Using Microsoft Word create a template to survey the potential market. Have students work as a class using an overhead to determine the questions to ask their audience and the options available. Show them how to use drop down boxes for emailed surveys or check boxes for printable ones. I tell them the one thing that is mandatory is to ask students what they would be willing to pay for a T-shirt, Hooded Fleece, etc.

Day 3: Distribute the surveys to teachers for their classrooms. Have students begin to brainstorm their ideas in small groups of potential product designs. Some classes I have work on computers using graphic design software or just google free t-shirt designs and have students begin designing shirts to display to the class.

Day 4: gather back the surveys. Using Excel chart the information and using that information correct or alter the designs being created. Have students pick their top two designs to begin getting prices on creating shirts.

Day 5: Contact vendors with your design. I use Wheeler Athletics in Delaware. They always are helpful and waive the set up fees for t-shirts and work with the students in designs to reduce costs.

Day 6: Student can work on their advertising. Show them the importance of advertising to their target audience. Also based on prices from vendors show students how to determine their markup price. This will enable students to see why products are never sold at cost, but are always marked up.

Day 7: Have students write proposal to submit to vendor, including design. Show the proper way to write a business letter/memo/email (depends which way they are contacting vendor). Place order (at this time you may have presold shirts which is what I always do so the shirts are paid for ahead of time and it doesn't cost any money)

Day 8: When shirts are received show students how to inspect goods and then how to set up an effective distribution system to get the shirts to the students who ordered.

At any time following the lesson you can revisit their experiences to reinforce math, english and marketing. It also allows students to opportunity to gain valuable business experience contacting vendors and negotiating orders. They also learn team work, group decision making and other valuable team building skills.
If you keep the designs basic a t-shirt only costs around 6.50 to make with 2 colors, you can then sell them for 10 or more and use the extra money to order additional shirts to sell after the presale. I found students would come up and ask to order the shirts after they would see other people wearing them. You can always sell them at cost and not lose money.
Cross-Curriculum Ideas
The art classes can be involved in the T-shirt designs. Hand drawn graphics give more variations than the clipart available.
You can follow up with any business lesson you like. You can also use excel and track the profits and loss of the shirts and show students how to track demand and supply based on the T-shirt prices. Set it high and lower the price as a few days goes by to see how many students buy the shirts.
Links: Link to T-shirt designs
Materials: Short Throw Projectors, Calculators, Art Tools, Printers, Flash/USB Drives, Computer Accessories, Writing, Elementary, Word Processor, Spreadsheet, Slideshow, Clip Art
Other Items: 50 T-shirts Price varies but I try to limit to one or two color shirt, $6.50 each, total of $325.00