Professional Practice

The Dangers of Shopping as an Art Teacher

rainbow pants

I headed to the restaurant supply store, list in hand:

  • Flour
  • Cake pan
  • Paper plates

I left with:

  • 3-foot-tall whisk
  • Roll of butcher paper
  • 5000 coffee stirrers

Personally, I’ve never met a store as dangerous as a restaurant supply store…and I don’t cook. But the aisles are packed with containers and paper supplies perfect for making art!

Sound familiar? Here’s another example.

shopping carts

You walk down the aisle and see a Post-it Note in a size you don’t have. You just have to buy it. You tell yourself that this size is going to be the perfect thing for you next Post-it Note critique.

You turn the corner only to spot a sale on Sharpies. You try to walk away, but you can’t. You tell yourself you’ll just buy one pack, and by one pack, you mean you’re going to buy all of the packs. (You get a teacher discount.)

At this point, your cart is full, but you haven’t even gotten to the milk aisle, which is what you came for in the first place.

Then you see the rainbow-colored pants. You’re hoping that they aren’t in your size. BUT THEY ARE!

rainbow pants

To some, rainbow pants might not seem practical. To you, they’re perfection. No one will be able to tell when a student trips and spills paint all over you.


Just around the corner is the best display you’ve ever seen.

It is a giant Bob Ross painting tiny trees. You MUST have this. Off to find a manager to see if you can buy this beauty. (And by “buy,” you mean “have.” After all, you’re already buying ALL of the Sharpies.)

You pay, forgetting the milk completely.

One more stop before you head to your car.

You casually, as if that is possible with a cart full of Sharpies, rainbow pants, and a giant Bob Ross, walk past the dumpster.


You start by glancing. Then you see the tip of what looks like a magically large pencil peeking out. Thankfully, you have on your sneakers, as it looks like you may need to do some climbing.

You consider throwing your cell phone into the dumpster. That way, if someone stops you, you’ll have a good excuse.

You pull your hat low, put on your extra large paint palette shaped sunglasses, sneak to the back, and rescue the giant pencil cutout from the dumpster. YOU ARE A HERO.

As you head to your car, you remember you don’t drive a box truck and begin to question how everything will fit.

Crisis averted. You have straps (proof you’re a professional). You strap Bob and your pencil to the roof, load the car, and are ready to head home.


As you can see, shopping as an art teacher can be difficult and dangerous. Every aisle, no matter the store, is filled with ideas, inspiration, and potential. While you may get odd looks in the checkout line, just remember the looks on your students’ faces when they see what you’ve found.

Thanks to the anonymous members of the AOE team who inspired this fictional shopping trip with their real-life art teacher shopping confessions. Let’s face it; we’ve all been there. Feeling oddly excited about a pile of discarded cardboard. Or realizing that we have the same shopping list as a serial killer…duct tape, zip ties, garbage bags, X-ACTO knives…

So, tell us. What’s your best art teacher shopping confession? 

What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever bought for your classroom?

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.


Amber Kane

Amber Kane is AOEU’s Director of K–12 Curriculum and a former AOEU Writer and high school art educator. She believes questioning and a focus on the creative thought process helps students uncover their personal voice and impact others.

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