Home Announcements/Important Dates Five Classroom Activities to Celebrate Leap Day

Five Classroom Activities to Celebrate Leap Day

by Diana Benner
Colorful people leap through the air with yellow and orange balloons.

Leap Year comes just once every four years, making February 29 a particularly special date. While the added calendar day helps sync up our timekeeping with the actual astronomical year, it’s also a perfect opportunity for teachers to engage students in some learning activities.

About Leap Day

February is the shortest month. It usually has 28 days. But every four years, an extra day is added to the calendar. It takes 365¼ days for the Earth to orbit the sun. A typical year only has 365 days. It would throw off our seasons if we didn’t observe leap years.

The history of adding an extra day to February dates back to Julius Caesar. At that time, the calendar was based on the Roman Calendar and only had 355 days in a year. Over time, this caused the seasons to be out of sync. Julius Caesar decided to simplify things and added days to different months of the year to create the 365-day calendar, which included a leap year system.

Leap Day Activities

Here are some activities to celebrate the extra day in our calendar.

1. Create a Time Capsule

Creating a Leap Year time capsule with your students can be a fun and memorable project that captures their experiences, thoughts, and aspirations during this unique year. Time capsules are usually made by getting containers and allowing students to decorate them. Students would then add a mix of personal and academic items representing the year. Time capsules can also be done digitally. Have students create digital presentations, videos, or audio recordings about their favorite memories, achievements, and hopes for the future. They can also write letters to their future selves. Encourage them to reflect on their hopes, dreams, and predictions for the future. Students can use tools like Flip, Adobe Spark, or Google Slides for this. In addition, Canva has several Time Capsule templates that can be used.

2. Build a Frog Catapult

Frogs are typically the animal most associated with leap year. Why not do some activities that center around them? Building a frog catapult not only adds an element of fun but it also helps students learn STEM skills. To build the catapult, you will need:

  • popsicle sticks
  • rubber bands
  • spoons
  • a frog cut out

Step-by-step directions can be found at Live, Laugh, Love to Learn. Another variation can be done by using marshmallows and skewers instead.

3. Leap Year Math

Turn the Leap Year into a math bonanza! Create math puzzles and challenges that revolve around the number 29, the extra day in February. Students can solve problems, work on equations, and explore mathematical patterns associated with Leap Year. For example, challenge students to calculate the probability of being born on February 29 (Leap Day). Provide them with the current population and birth rates and guide them through the steps to determine the likelihood of someone having a Leap Day birthday. Discuss the results as a class. Here is a Leap Year math problem set from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory at the California Institute of Technology.

4. Have Leaping Contests

Add some active motion to the leap year festivities. 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 on a table. You can then have students make different graphs and charts to represent that data visually. Don’t forget to award prizes for the longest jumps or most creative leap moves. Here are some additional ideas for games and activities that involve hopping and jumping.

5. Leap into Writing

Get your students excited about having a “bonus” or extra day in the year. Ask them to write about what they will do with their extra day. Guide them toward making the most of their day by spreading kindness. Students can also write about what they think their lives will look like four years from now when there’s another leap year. If you’d like to push students’ creativity, consider giving them a prompt where they can do anything they want on Leap Day, discover they have a superpower only for the day, etc.

As the Leap Year brings an extra day to our calendars, let’s make the most of it in the classroom. These activities not only celebrate Leap Year’s uniqueness but also offer students valuable learning experiences.

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