Centuries ago, the Romans figured out that it takes roughly 365¼ days for Earth to orbit the sun and devised a calendar that adds an extra day every four years to keep everything in sync.
We are technically under the Gregorian calendar, which continues with leap days every four years except on years ending in 00 that are not divisible by 400. For example, 1900 had no Feb. 29, and neither will 2100.
Four years ago, our family made a time capsule that we will open on February 29, 2020. So much has changed in those four years, including a big move and two elementary-school-aged kids who are now teenagers. Fast-forward another four years? Our daughter will be in college and our son will be enjoying his senior year of high school.
Here are some fun ideas for celebrating Leap Year with your kids this year.
1. Share Fun Facts About Leap Year
What makes this year so special? Why do we have a leap year every four years? Exploring these questions and sharing other fun facts about leap year is essential in helping children understand why there’s an extra day in February. The History channel has some great insights into the background.
2. Have a Leap Day Celebration
Throw a party to help celebrate Leap Day! You can also choose a Leap Day theme to celebrate (i.e. Leap into Reading or Leap into Spring).
3. Learn About Animals That Leap
Frogs are typically the animal most associated with leap year, but there are plenty of other animals that leap and jump! Lemurs, kangaroos, and grasshoppers are just a few of the leaping creatures you and your students can learn about on Leap Day. Watch a video or read a book about the animal(s) your class chooses to learn about, or have students do individual research on a chosen animal.
4. Play a Fun Game of Leapfrog
Snow or sunshine, take children outside to play a fun game of leapfrog. You can also play other games that require leaping or jumping.
5. See Who Can Leap the Farthest
Have several contests to see who can leap or jump the farthest. This is a great way to incorporate physical activity into your lesson plans while also celebrating Leap Day! Another idea is to document how far everyone jumps by recording it in a table. You can then kids students make different graphs and charts to represent that data visually.
6. Make Predictions about the Year 2024
Reflect on the last four years…and then look to the future. Have everyone make predictions about where they’ll be and what they’ll be doing in 2024 (the next leap year). Will they be starting middle school or high school? What sports and/or activities will they be participating in? What do kids think the world will be like in 2024?
We can only hope it will be grand!