School Closures – Activities To Keep Kids Happy, Healthy and Active

Monday, 23 March, 2020

Across the country, life has changed dramatically these past couple of weeks.  My school district closed on Friday the 13th. One minute I was helping my students rush to pack up their belongings for unplanned school closure.  Later that day I was home with my children, wondering how I was going to structure the days and possibly weeks ahead.

Being stuck at home for a day or two because of a snowstorm or illness is one thing, but finding ourselves unexpectedly home for an extended (and unknown) period of time is a completely different situation.  

There are only so many times you can do the dishes in a day, and believe me, I’m pretty sure I’ve found the limit.  My dishpan hands can attest to that! Beyond chores (funny how my kids kept hiding every time I called their name….) it seems helpful to have a grab-bag of kids activities to make the most of this unexpected time at home.

Online Adventures

Using the internet to our advantage in these strange times is particularly helpful since most of our children tend to gravitate towards their devices.  If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em – and by offering some educational or active options, you can sneak in a little learning and exercise too! Check out these suggestions:

Virtual Field Trips – the whole family can enjoy a virtual trip to a National Park, a glacier in Iceland, or a famous tourist destination like the Eiffel Tower.  Some of these sites feature 360 degree filming technology, allowing the viewer to rotate the screen to see a panoramic image. 

  • National Geographic – 47 videos and counting of destinations around the world
  • Google Earth – visit literally any place on Earth.  Has “voyages” as well, like “world’s largest lakes”
  • Visit Mars – get inside a rover and explore another planet, courtesy of images from NASA
  • Go to the Zoo – the San Diego Zoo is world-class and offers many live webcams

Free Online Art – many artists have taken to YouTube to provide free lessons for kids and adults.  

Yoga for Kids – YouTube is another great resource for getting your kids up and active.  Yoga provides movement, requires little space, and relieves stress – all useful things right now!

  • Cosmic Kids Yoga includes stories, colorful images and mindfulness techniques.  Great for younger children.
  • Yoga with Adriene has been one of my favorites for years (she’s the reason I started practicing yoga).  Her calm demeanor and variety of videos for all ages and needs may inspire you to hit that “subscribe” button.

Old School Activities

When your kids need a break from the internet, think back to the types of things we did when we were young.  Board games, roller skating, and climbing trees were my favorite pastimes. Getting offline is good for the soul, and creates opportunities for making memories together.

  • Explore the kitchen and bake up a tasty treat with your kids.  Some of my favorite food blogs are:
  • Send them out to the yard with a container of bubbles, sidewalk chalk or a soccer ball.  
  • No yard or yucky weather?  Here’s a list of 25 ideas for indoor fun that require little to no supplies.
  • Break out the board games you have stored away (mine were collecting dust until recently) or a deck of cards for games like “go fish” and “war”.  

Whether you decide to bake a 3 layer cake from scratch or spend the day in your pj’s binge-watching Netflix, enjoy these moments with your family.  Give yourself permission to have days where nothing is scheduled. The most important lesson you are teaching your kids is how to respond in a time of crisis.  Applaud your efforts to maintain a sense of normalcy for your family, and don’t forget that you need time for yourself as well. 

My School Dance is offering 50% off processing fees for schools still planning to host their dances this year.

Follow us on: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Pinterest!



Written by: Angela O’Brien

What to do when you are stuck at home for COVID-19

Monday, 16 March, 2020

When you were making fun and exciting plans for what to do during Spring Break with friends you weren’t planning on being restricted from so much due to an outbreak of COVID-19.  All you can think about is what you can’t do, but there are still some great things you can do to have fun during this unexpected Spring Break.

Very small group activities

Plan a spa day either just you or with a couple of friends.  This is something you can do all together at someone’s house. Each person can look up facial treatments, hair mask recipes, and foot bath soaks.  Many of these have ingredients you can find right in your own kitchen or bathroom cabinet.  Play up the whole experience and play music from the spa music station or you can google ‘spa music’ and stream it on your computer.  You might want to save this one for the last couple of days, so you are looking your absolute best when you go back to school.

If you get some friends together, you can have a lip sync challenge.  Pick a few songs and draw names from a hat to challenge each other.  Or one night get your friends together and host your own Chopped Cooking Challenge.  It could be breakfast, lunch, dinner, or dessert.  Break into teams and each team picks a surprise item for the other team that they have to use!  Then have a great time eating all the goodies.   Get a couple of friends or your significant other together and all take an online cooking class.  Step outside your comfort zone and try something new and different.

Solo Activities

On your own?  Here are a few things you can do.  Go through your closet, take out things that you haven’t worn in the last year, and put them in a bag, basket, or box to donate.  Then go through and organize your closet.  If you go one step further pre-plan outfits for the first week back at school.

Try out some of the language learning apps and try out another language.  Make a bucket list of things you want to do over the summer.  Check out a YouTube video to learn how to play an instrument.  Better yet, pick a skill or hobby and make your own YouTube video!   Try out yoga or meditation.  Rearrange your room or remodel your room.  Simply changing the paint color can make a huge difference.  Check out some of the newest books at the library or on Audible.

Activities with littles

Now here is the real challenge, what to do if you’re spending Spring Break with young children.   Just a few ideas of what to do with the littles.  Just because you’re restricted from going to places with large groups doesn’t mean you can’t get outside.  Create a list of games to play outside or create an obstacle course– be sure to include crossing over a ‘lava pit’ or a ‘river filled with crocodiles’!  Make cookies, build a blanket fort, and have a picnic.   Play pirate and hunt for treasure.   Try exercising to an exercise video streamed on your computer or television.  This ends up being more giggling than exercising.  Spend an afternoon with them writing a thank you letter to a mom/dad, a grandparent, friend, a relative, or a teacher (this would be an extra special surprise for him or her).  Something kids of all ages would love, write a story and make a video of them acting out the story you wrote together.  Then make popcorn and watch the video together.  You could have a mini-movie-thon of all their favorite movies.  Create a book of all their favorite things or make a pop-up book.

Whether you spend this time on your own, with a couple of friends, or spending time with littles, make the time filled with good things to refresh your mind and body.   Getting outside, doing something new, trying different foods or learning something new that isn’t school-related can do much to recharge before you head back to school, homework, tests, studying, projects, and the books.  Right now, just breathe, relax and have a great time.

Check out our Pinterest page for more information!

If your school is still planning to host the prom, but you cannot sell tickets due to students not being in school, sell your tickets online through My School Dance. We are offering 50% off processing fees for all of the prom due to coronavirus.

Prom Safety for Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Wednesday, 11 March, 2020

You’ve probably spent months planning your school’s spring prom – the hallmark event for your seniors. However, amidst fears about the threat of Coronavirus (COVID-19), some schools are contemplating canceling large social events altogether. While each school’s decision is completely discretionary, if your school does decide to proceed with having a prom or other large social event, here are some tips to keep things clean and sanitary:

  1. Hand sanitizer EVERYWHERE – You can never have enough hand sanitizer. Keep hand sanitizer stations convenient throughout your event space. Perhaps even give it to students as a favor at the dance.
  2. Circulation – If your prom is in a place where you can open windows or doors (weather permitting), do so to allow circulation throughout the event.
  3. Offer a mask decorating station – If you are extremely concerned about the spread of germs, ask all students to wear masks. Consider a mask decorating contest using fun jewels, stickers, or markers to align with your theme.
  4. Consider alternative activities to dancing – Proms can be challenging, especially asking students to avoid close physical contact. Instead of facilitating a dance floor, consider other activities instead of dancing where you can properly sterilize things. Some examples of this would be video game or board game stations (with sanitizing wipes nearby), outdoor games or a field day (weather permitting), an outside picnic, or simply good music and a nice dinner, without dancing.
  5. Make all attendees sign a waiver that they will not come if experiencing signs of sickness – Recently a person attended a dance that ignored a directive not to attend due to potential exposure and cited that it was because he was “never told”. Most schools have students, parents, and out of school guests sign off on behavioral agreements to attend the prom, and if your school does not do this, we highly recommend it to reduce liabilities. My School Dance allows you to customize these agreements for electronic distribution to all necessary parties. An example of a clause you could put in at the bottom of your agreement is: “If in the last two weeks, you or someone living in your house has been experiencing flu-like symptoms or has been in contact with someone carrying COVID-19, you are not permitted to attend the dance. If found in violation of this, you could face disciplinary or legal action and will endanger hundreds of other students and families. Please be respectful of the health of our community.”

We hope you still want to provide your students with a memorable prom experience with the right precautions. If you choose to cancel or postpone your prom, that is ok to do as well. The health and safety of your students are first and foremost above everything.

Stay informed. The CDC and the World Health Organization (WHO) are updating their sites with the latest information.

Happy Dancing,

My School Dance

St. Patrick’s Day – A Golden Opportunity for Festive Learning

Monday, 9 March, 2020

March 9, 2020

Thinking about how to bring St. Patrick’s Day into the classroom for your high schoolers this year?  There are a variety of ways to use this holiday as a teaching opportunity, while also enjoying the whimsy and charm of rainbows and leprechauns.  

St. Patrick’s Day is a special day for me – as my name suggests, I come from Irish stock and have the freckles to prove it.   My three children are now in high school, but they still enjoy decorating the house with lots of gold, green and shamrocks.

Something our high schoolers may not realize is that St. Patrick’s Day is more than four-leaf clovers and rivers dyed green (shout-out to Chicago where My School Dance is based!)  Our students can definitely benefit from learning more about the holiday and how it is celebrated – on both sides of the pond.

St. Patrick’s Day Customs and Traditions  

St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated as Ireland’s National Holiday, and banks, schools and some businesses close for the day.  There are parades throughout the country, and some people observe the day by going to church or spending the day with family.   

Here are some lessons and information you can share with your students about this day:

  • Visit to find information on who St. Patrick was, the history of the holiday, and other facts and traditions.  You can even assign the link on Google Classroom and let students explore, then report back with their findings.
  • The NEA (National Education Association) has put together a wonderful list with ideas for free lessons, activities, videos and books to read about St. Patrick’s Day.

Fact vs. Fiction

Debunk the myths about St. Patrick’s day by exploring some sites that delve into the facts and fiction about the holiday.  Did you know, for example, that the original color of St. Patrick’s Day was blue? Ask your students to research this, and other interesting tidbits and in teams and report back.  Incorporating technology by sharing what they have learned via Google Slides or other digital platforms can be an added bonus.

Irish Literature & Folktales 

St. Patrick’s Day is a great reason to explore Irish literature and folktales with your students.  Of course, English teachers likely have more than a few of these authors in their repertoire. Just in case, here are some lists and free links to Irish literature that may help round out your St. Patrick’s Day instruction:

School Spirit and Whimsical Celebrations

Now for the rainbows, leprechauns, and pots of gold I promised.  St. Patrick’s Day is a self-designated spirit day, as students are most likely going to wear green anyways to avoid the dreaded St. Patrick’s Day pinch.  As the saying goes, if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.  

  • Enlist the ASB, Activities, or student leadership/culture organizations you may have on campus to promote the day with posters, announcements, and social media messages.  Give out prizes in various categories: most original and most school spirit, for example.
  • Do a door decorating contest, again using your student leaders to spread the word.  Prizes encourage participation!
  • Food – while fish and chips in your math class may not be feasible, what about another classic: Irish soda bread.  Many grocery stores sell it around this time of year. Or, give out a recipe like this one and have students work in teams to bake a loaf at home and bring it in to share.  Offer lucky Irish extra credit for participation.

Having a St. Patrick’s Day dance or event?! Manage it for free with My School Dance!

Follow us on: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Pinterest!



Written by: Angela O’Brien

Prom, the 2020s meet the Roaring 1920s!

Monday, 2 March, 2020

March 2, 2020

The first Prom Committee meeting is underway and you’re looking for the best prom ideas- epic prom ideas.  The year is 2020 and someone suggests, The Roaring 20s!  I mean it’s perfect, right? Now what?  Where do you go from here?    Take one this suggestion one step further with the ideal theme.  There are some great iconic 1920s songs, phrases, and cultural images that come to mind that would make the perfect prom theme.  This was the age of Jazz, the Charleston dance craze, the Great Gatsby, Swing music and dancing, New York jazz clubs, Chicago gangsters, flappers, and speakeasies.

Our top ten roaring 20s theme suggestions:  All That Jazz – The Great Gatsby – Dixieland Ballroom – Swing City Blues – Rhapsody in Blue – Puttin’ on the Ritz – The Cotton Club – Ragtime Ball – Southside Swing – Windy City Speakeasy or Chicago Speakeasy or even better look up some of the names of your hometown historic speakeasies!

You’ve picked your theme now choose the colors you’re going to use for everything from the invitations to the decorations.  The classic style for the 1920s era was Art Deco and a great color scheme for any of these prom themes is black, gold, and white.  If you choose Swing City Blues, replace the black with blue.  If you use Rhapsody in Blue, try using blue, black and white/gold.

Depending on your chosen theme, add to your list of decorations jazz musician silhouettes, a Rolls Royce cut out, art deco columns, or a backroom speakeasy backdrop.  Table decorations of white plumed feathers or an art deco style light with each table named for a 20s dance, slang phrase, or person: The Bees Knees, The Cat’s Pajamas, The Lindy Hop, Bugsy’s, or Capone’s.  Placemats made to look like newspaper headlines captured from the 1920s would make a great keepsake to use for scrapbooks with pictures.

Get a photo frame or photo album keepsake engraved with the prom theme name and your class year using an art deco font.  Each printing service offers its own selection of fonts and most likely will have an  “art deco” font.  Some other common fonts would be: Bernhard Fashion, Blakely, Broadway, Metropolis, Mona Lisa Recut, Mostra, and one of our favorites, Silvermoon.  Be sure to pick up props with headbands, gangster fedoras, beads, feathers, and lace fans for great keepsake photos. Check out our favorite decor and favor retailer Anderson’s!

Now, to make prom not just a dance, but an EPIC experience.  What’s great about having a theme based around the Roaring 20s are not just the amazing decoration ideas, but activities you can have leading up to prom to get your classmates excited and involved in prom.

Here are just a few ideas to get everyone ramped up for the big day.  Host a silent movie night in the school auditorium, you could even talk to the band director and get the school orchestra to play music for the films!  Contact the local historical society and host a 1920s fashion show to get your classmates in the mood for dressing the part.  Announce that there will be ribbons or prizes to the best-dressed couple, the best ‘Zoot Suit’, and the best ‘Flapper’.  Have Roaring 20s trivia during lunch periods at school during prom week and have Charleston and Swing Dance lessons during the week.

When prom night arrives, have the DJ or band play the top songs of the era and stage great photo opps as they enter with the jazz musicians, Rolls Royce, and art deco columns.  Get one of the teachers (even better the principal and vice-principal!) to dress as maître ds to escort couples to their tables.  At various locations, have the prop tables set up for additional pictures throughout the night to make for some great memories.  Since you’ve had the Charleston and Swing Dance lessons that week, hold a dance contest!

No matter what theme you choose, get ready to have a Roaring Good Time! Sell your tickets online for free with My School Dance! Half off processing fees for prom!

Written by Midge Brody

If you want more activities or tips for your school, check out these blog posts next: The Ultimate Prom Planning Timeline, 3 Ways To Effective Classroom Management.


But wait! That’s not all. Follow us on: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Pinterest!