Next Saturday 29 February is a leap day. A leap day is an extra day added to every fourth year to keep the calendar in line with the solar year. Since we only have one 29 February every four years, it is a day worthy of celebration. Here are some ideas to get you started.
20 Fun facts about leap years
- A leap year occurs once every four years.
- A leap year has 366 days instead of the 365 days of other years.
- The extra day added to a leap year is 29 February.
- The extra day is added to keep the calendar year in line with the seasons and astronomical calendar.
- The number of leap years are all divisible by 4; for example, 2000, 2004, 2008, 2012, 2016, 2020, 2024, 2028.
- However, although all hundred years are divisible by 4, not all hundred years are leap years. Hundred years are only leap years if they are divisible by 400. So, while 2000 was a leap year, the next hundred year to be a leap year will be 2400.
- Leap years were first introduced by Julius Caesar over 2000 years ago with the Julian calendar. His rule was to add a leap day to every year that was divisible by 4.
- The leap year as we now know it, with the hundred year rule, was introduced by Pope Gregory VIII in 1582. In that year, Pope Gregory had to remove ten days from calendar to keep it in sync with the solar year. The calendar we still use, the Gregorian Calendar, is named after him.
- If we did not have a leap year with an extra day every four years, the seasons would shift about 24 calendar days every 100 years.
- If you were born in a leap year, each time there is another leap year, your age will be divisible by 4. For example, if you were born in the leap year 2012, in the next leap year 2016 you will be 4, and in the next 2020 you will be 8 and in the next 2024 you will be 12 and so on.
- The Summer Olympic Games are held in leap years.
- Years that are not leap years are called common or ordinary
- The extra day in February, the 29th is always the same day as the first of the month.
- In a leap year, January, April and July all start on the same day of the month.
- It’s called a leap year because each date jumps over two days instead of just one.
- In common or ordinary years, events move forward one day each year. For example, if Christmas was on a Tuesday one year, as it was in 2018, it will be on a Wednesday the following year, as it was in 2019. However, as this year 2020 is a leap year, it will skip (or leap) forward two days and be on a Friday.
- 29 February is the 60th day of the year.
- A person born on 29 February is called a ‘leapling’.
- People who are born on 29 February (leaplings) usually celebrate their birthdays on 28 February or 1 March.
- The chances of being a ‘leapling’ is 1 in 1461 because that’s the number of days in four years and 29 February occurs only once in four years.
You can download and print this list here.
Were you born in a leap year?
Here how to work it out:
Look at the last two digits of the year in which you were born. If that number is divisible by four, you were born in a leap year. Then, when every leap year comes around, your age will be a multiple of four.
Here’s a fun activity for children to work out if they were born in a leap year. All they need is the number of counters to match the number shown by the last two digits in the year they were born and share them out into four equal groups. In this activity, children learn about sharing equal groups and multiples of four.
Born on 29 February
People born on 29 February are called ‘leaplings’ because they were born on the leap day. Are there any leaplings in your class? In your school? The chances of it is one in 1461 as that is the number of days in four years.
Superman’s fictional birthday is 29 February. (Is that because he can ‘leap tall buildings in a single bound’?
Some ideas to discuss
If someone was born on 29 February, how would they count their birthdays? Would they only count their real birthdays? When would they celebrate their birthdays?
How would you feel if you only got to celebrate your ‘real’ birthday once every four years?
Skip counting (call it leap counting) on leap day
A leap day is a great day to practise skip counting.
Use a 100 chart, for example the Busy Bees Interactive 100 chart, to skip count in twos, threes and fours.
How many leap years are there in a century?
Complete the activity to find out the number of leap years in a century, then use the completed chart to practise skip counting in fours.
Some fun things for older children to investigate
If you have older children at home or perhaps work with an older buddy class, these are some things they may like to investigate.
- How old are your parents? How can you work out how many leap years they have lived through?
- In common or ordinary years, events move forward one day each year. For example, if Christmas was on a Tuesday one year, as it was in 2018, it will be on a Wednesday the following year, as it was in 2019. However, as this year 2020 is a leap year, it will skip forward two days and be on a Friday. Why does it skip forward two days? Explain.
- Counting from 1 January as the 1st day of the year, 29 February is the 60th What day of the year is your birthday in a leap year? What day is it in a common year? How many different ways could you work this out?
- In a leap year, January, April and July all start on the same day of the month. What other months start on the same day in a leap year? What months start on the same day in an ordinary year? Will some months always start on the same day? How do you know?
- The extra day in February, the 29th, is always the same day as the first of the month. Why? Do any other months start and end on the same day? Why?
- If 29 February is the 60th day of the year in a leap year, what is the 60th day in non-leap years?
If we did not have a leap year with an extra day every four years, the seasons would shift about 24 calendar days every 100 years. Would that matter? Why?
This Leap Year Calendar Activity also provides children with some fun ways to learn about calendars and leap years.
Enjoy Leap Day. It gives us one extra day to get things done this year. Just imagine how much more productive our year will be. Enjoy!
Remember to check out the complete readilearn collection of
over 400 teaching resources for the first three years of school
Resources beyond worksheets – lessons for teachers made by teachers.
Let readilearn lighten your workload.
I appreciate your feedback and comments. Please share your thoughts below.
Follow Blog By Email