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Stealin’ Paint Chips from Wal-Mart – Writing Freebie!

About a month ago, my fourth grade teachers and I went to an Empowering Writers training at our local service center. It was a great training for expository writing, and my teachers walked away with a lot of strategies and tools. One specific tool the trainer shared, which I’ve seen before on pinterest in various forms, is using paint sample cards to help students expand their color descriptions.
Our trainer said we should go to the store, steal a bunch of paint chips, and put them on a ring so students can use them to find specific color words. Rather than saying “red” or “blue,” they can say, “pomegranate red,” or “cold cobalt”. 

So today, after I got out of school, I was feeling charitable. I left early and ran by local Wally World, thinking, “I’m going to take a bunch of paint chips and make the rings for my teachers during my week off!”
This was easier said than done. Mostly because I am afraid of getting in trouble  know it’s wrong to steal.  
Feeling guilty already about my plan to steal samples with no intention to purchase paint, I went to the hardware section and was pleased to see that it was empty. Just like when I need help with something, no associate with an “Ask me, I can help” vest was to be found. I started out with the shades of blue and purple. I grabbed “royal amethyst” and “true turquoise” paint samples in bundles of seven (one for each teacher). My stack began to grow as I added in “pale hyacinth” and “feather teal”. 
At this point, I realized I had quite a stack, so I stuffed it into my purse. I gazed around nonchalantly, trying to channel “I’m just browsing for the perfect bedroom color,” I looked left and right. There was no associate in the vicinity. I did see several shoppers, though, and their classiness (this store is known for its classy clientele) deterred me from theft for a second. By which I mean I knew they knew exactly what I was doing: stealing.

Oh, well. They knew. I knew. We all know.
 Grabbing large chunks of yellows: canary cream, dusty daffodil, and honeyed honeysuckle joined the bundle of contraband in my purse. 
I began to really feel guilty. I looked around and saw a blue vest in the distance and decided to take a walk around the aisle. Pushing my cart and my purse full of thievery, I took a few steps down the aisle and pretended to think about surge protectors and extension cords. After I made a full circle around the aisle, I again stopped in front of the paint samples and proceeded to gather browns, beiges, and greens. Sea foam and fresh-cut grass were added to my stack, along with bubblegum pink and shades of rose.

And then the phone rang. 
It was a sudden ring, from right behind me. The empty booth, designed for an associate who should be giving me the evil eye right now, was still vacant, but the phone was ringing. 
It was ringing for me. It was ringing because I was a thief.
I shoved all the paint samples in my purse – the stack was about five inches tall by now – and started to turn my cart to leave the section.
And then a voice came over the public address system. 
“Someone in hardware, please pick up line 2.”
AAAAAAA! I thought. They’re calling someone to the hardware department to tell me to stop stealing their stuff! 
I walked quickly, clutching my guilty purse, darting across the store.  “If I can only make it through the checkout before someone tells them I’m coming!” I thought irrationally. I stuffed my scarf into my purse to make sure no paint chips crawled out to declare my guilt.

I found a magical empty checkout lane (I know – an empty lane in Wally World? It had to be a trap) and raced to the counter. I couldn’t make eye contact with the cashier, becuase my tell-tale heart was beating from inside my bag. 
“Did you find everything you were looking for today?” the cashier asked me.
“Yes,” I squeaked, barely able to keep myself from blurting out, “I’m sorry! I’ll never do it again!” 
“Have a good night,” she said.
I didn’t deserve her graciousness.
“Thank you,” I said, as I dragged my bag o’lies out of the store. I didn’t feel completely comfortable until I was sitting in my car with the door closed. I opened up my sack and shuffled through my purloined paint colors. 

The kids will never know what we do for them. I risked my freedom for a stack of colorful cards in colors I will never really use.
All of this being said, if you are brave and would like to go steal paint chips from your local one stop money trap, here’s a handy dandy printable you can use to make your own Ring O’ Color Words! 

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  1. Love that you made the most of your Empowering Thieve—-Writers Workshop! I cracked up at your story! (But I bet if you ask the nice man in the blue vest he will let you have the samples. Personally, though, I'd hit Home Depot or a hardware store.)

  2. If it makes you feel better, every time I've asked if I can steal paint samples at my local hardware store branches, they have been amused and said to take as many as I need. I'm pretty sure they're used to it by now with all the craft/lesson ideas that use paint samples. 🙂

  3. I have asked the department management and assist management about taking them for a craft projects, they all told me to go ahead, I thought the same thing…they said it was fine and take what I need but leave some for others…

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