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 29
^{th}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 60
^{th}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 1
^{st}day of the year, 29 February is the 60^{th}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 29
^{th}, 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 60
^{th}day of the year in a leap year, what is the 60^{th}day in non-leap years?

**And discuss**

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!

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I appreciate your feedback and comments. Please share your thoughts below.

Great, fun facts, Norah on Leap Year and Leap Day. Number 6, 10 is interesting, new information. Actually, most of it is new information for me.

Yes, I am 1956, therefore, I was born in a Leap Year. Great dinner time conversations for all ages.

Since we are discussing numbers, my new little grandson was born 02/20/2020. Have a great week!

Thanks, Erica. I’m so pleased you enjoyed the post and found the information interesting. I was also born in a leap year. I guess number 10 should have said ‘If you were born on a leap day’ not just in a leap year. I might need to amend that one. 🙂

Congratulations on the birth of your grandson. How exciting, and what an amazing birth date. It will be easy to remember.

My grandson was born 30 September 2009 and my granddaughter on 3 November 2011. Since their month matches their year, they are easy to remember too. 🙂

I love these resources and ideas to use in the classroom. It would be interesting to have discussions about the leap year. Great celebration for February 29 next week, Norah! I’ll fly 1.000 miles to see my granddaughter Autumn and check out how my daughter is doing to prepare for her new born coming on March 27.

Thank you so much, Miriam. I think there is something to celebrate about every day. Just having the opportunity to enjoy it is reason enough. But how exciting for you to visit your granddaughter and her family. There is much there to be joyful about.

I agree, Norah. When I was working, we celebrated so many special days. It added the excitement to an ordinary day.

It does. If we have to be at school, it may as well be fun.

Exactly, Norah.

Yes, I tried to do that all the time.

Exactly!

thanks for all the fun-facts – my favorite is the one about Superman!

Thanks, Jim. I agree it’s a good one too. 🙂

Oh so wonderful, Norah! 🙂 Must share and wish you a wonderful Leap Year Celebration! xo

Thank you, Bette. Happy Leap Day to you too! 🐸💖

Fun post with a lot of fun activities and trivia facts for kids. Like your printouts. I also like the term ‘leaplings’ — which I didn’t know. As a side note, if you were born a leapling, you could shave off some years as you age and not be fibbing 🙂 I was not born in a leap year — 51, In all seriousness, this is an excellent post and a fun way to teach history and math, and have some fun.

Thank you for your lovely comment, Patricia. I’m pleased you find the activities useful. I am not a leapling but I was born in a leap year. I’m not going to say which one though. 🙂

These are great ideas, Norah. I actually forgot it was a leap year this year – fancy that!

Yes, fancy. I don’t think quite as much is made of it any more. When I was younger, it seems there were lots of reminders as it used to be said that women could ask men to marry them in a leap year – or on a leap day – I can’t remember which. It seems such an outdated idea now. Thankfully, things have moved on.

My neighbor is a leapling. A very strong-willed leapling. According to her we should be celebrating her birthday for the entire month of February and the better parts of March. And why not, it’s only every four years.

I enjoyed the mathistory of this post!

Happy birthday to your neighbour on Saturday. I hope she enjoys the months-long celebration. I think every birthday should be celebrated for weeks leading up to and after it. It would be even more important for a leapling. I’ve never known a leapling. I wonder if I’ll ever meet one. 🙂

Cute! I wanted some ideas for Leap Day.

Great! Enjoy!