Teach kids about Leap Year and Leap day

by Mary Ann on February 1, 2012

three little smiling children vintage picture

Shirley Kay, Cindy Lu and Mary Ann

My sister was born on February 28th almost exactly two years after me. She has always been so happy to have been born on the 28th and not on the 29th. If she had been born on the 29th she would have been born on what is called Leap Day, or Leap Year Day. If she had been born on February 29th she would have been a leap year baby and would have had only had 15 birthdays and she is 60 years old! Why is that?

The reason she would have had only 15 birthdays in 60 years is because she would have been born in a leap year.

What is a leap year?

Every four years a day is added to the calendar. It happens in a leap year. Every four years there is a year with 366 days instead of the usual 365. Amazing! Why is that?

Why do we need a leap year?

earth revolution around sun pictureLeap year began in order to align the earth’s rotation around the sun with our seasons. It takes approximately 365.2422 days for the earth to travel around the sun in one year. We know that a typical year has 365 days in it—but as you can see from the number 365.2422, a year is not exactly 365 days! So, in order to get “lined up”, almost every four years, we give one extra day to account for the additional time the earth takes to travel around the sun.

When is Leap Year?

According to the Gregorian calendar every fourth year is a leap year.

  • For example 2008, 2012, 2016 are leap years.
  • Every hundredth year is not a leap year.
  • For example 1900, 2100, 2200, 2300 are not leap years.
  • Every four hundred years has a leap year.
  • For example 2000, 2400, 2800 are leap years.

Another way to tell if it’s a Leap Year or not is by noting what day of the week the year starts and ends on. Every year January 1 and December 31(the first and last day of the year) fall on the same day of the week, unless, of course, it’s a Leap Year. Leap Years only occur in years that show January 1st landing on one day of the week and December 31 on the following day of the week.

If your children are older this is a good time to learn all about the difference between the Gregorian calendar and the Julian calendar.

Leap Year Trivia

Even Decades have three Leap Years – Odd decades have two Leap Years.

In Ireland, every February 29th, women were allowed to ask for a man in marriage. A man was fined if he refused the proposal. In America this tradition is called Sadie Hawkins Day.

sadie hawkins day cartoon

sadie hawkins day

In 1988, TIME magazine proclaimed Superman to be born on February 29; therefore he is a Leap Year Day Baby!

animated super man picture


Did you know the Titanic sank in a Leap Year?

Leap Year Trivia Books:

  • The Leap year book Written by Barbara Sutton-Smith

Leap Year Rhymes:

Thirty days hath September,
April, June, and November;
All the rest have thirty-one,
Excepting February alone,
And that has twenty-eight days clear,
And twenty-nine in each leap year.
—Mother Goose

Twenty-eight days has February
A very light load for one month to carry
The other months have 2 and 3 more
Thirty and thirty-one being their big score

In Leap Years the days they do vary
Making 29 days in February

– Raenell Dawn

Leap Year Party Ideas:

You don’t have to be born on February 29 to enjoy Leap Day. It’s everyone’s extra day! So why not have a family party?

  • Jump rope:


Leap Year, Leap Year
When will you be?
Every four years
Then you’ll see.
You want more?
We do too!
How many more
can you Leap to?

by Raenell Dawn

  • Color a leap year picture
  • Make a leap year bean bag 
  • Play Leap Frog, an old pioneer game.
  • Find a Leap Frog – Buy some little plastic frogs (they are very inexpensive at Wal-mart and the like). Make up about 6 boxes of Jello following the directions on the Jello package, black works good. Put the frogs in a big Rubbermaid container and pour the Jello over the frogs. Tell the kids that the frogs are living in the black swamp and they have to dig in the dirt to find their frog. They love sticking their hands in the cold slimy Jello.
  • Have a Froggy Snack – Have cupcakes frosted with green frosting and have different jellybeans and decorations to make frog faces and red shoestring licorice for the tongues.

Leap Year Books for Children:

  • Leopold’s Long Awaited Leap Year Birthday by Dawn Desjardins
  • It’s My Birthday…Fianlly! by Michelle Whitaker-Winfrey
  • Leaps Day by Stephanie Bee Simmons
  • The Kangaroo Who Couldn’t Stop by Robert Cox
  • The Leap Year Book by Barbara Sutton-Smith 
  • The Pirates of Penzance, a musical by William S. Gilbert and Arthur S. Sullivan
  • The Pirates of Penzance, the film version with Kevin Kline, Rex Smith and Linda Ronstadt William S. Gilbert and Arthur S. Sullivan
  • It’s Not Leap Year This Year by Michelle Whitaker-Winfrey
  • Mommy, Where’s My Birthday! by Lakisha Cornel

Leap Year Young Adult Books:

  • Leap Day by Wendy Mass


Possibly Related Posts:

{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Kimberly February 6, 2012 at 11:19 pm

What a gorgeous photo! This post is a must bookmark for homeschoolers to reference every Feb. 28th 🙂


Mary Ann February 7, 2012 at 4:21 pm

Thank you Kimberly. It was really fun to write!! As for the photo, we were cute weren’t we. : )


Leah February 12, 2012 at 10:51 pm

You know the sad thing Mary Ann….I am a LEAP YEAR BABY! And i didn’t know some of this trivia! And I never thought to use my actual birthday as a way to expose to all of this great info and ideas to the kids. I am so exited for my birthday to come now…and to do a little exploratory learning about it before hand. Ill be turning 9 (and my almost 10 year old thinks it is hillarious that he is going to be older than me soon.
Ps…..supposedly Michael Jackson was a leap year baby too. I much prefer sharing the day with superman!
Pss…my younger brother was due four years after me on LEAP DAY…but he ended up coming on the 27th. My mom almost had two of us on Feb 29th.

Thanks for this post!


Mary Ann February 13, 2012 at 7:57 am

Hahahahahaha Funny Leah. This is a fun thing for your son. I am glad this has “inspired” you. That is the name of the game isn’t it. INSPIRE! : )


Robyn February 21, 2012 at 2:12 pm

Michael Jackson was born on August 29th, not Feb. 29th. Just an FYI. 🙂


Mary Ann February 21, 2012 at 4:25 pm

Hmmmmmm. Help me out. I have reread this blog twice and I cannot find Michael Jackson in here. How am I missing it?


Chad July 21, 2014 at 10:10 am

The mention about Michael Jackson is in Leah’s comment above… not in the blog. However, Robyn is correct, Michael Jackson was not born on leap day. Michael Jackson was born Aug. 29 1958, so he was not a leap year baby, as the leap years in that time period were 1952, 1956, 1960, and 1964. A few examples of famous people actually born on leap day include: Pope Paul III, technically the “last” Renaissance pope (b. 1468, d. 1549), Morarji Desai, former Indian prime minister (b. 1896, d. 1995), Carlos Humberto Romero, former president of El Salvador (b. 1924–), and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople(b. 1940–).


Mary Ann July 21, 2014 at 10:50 pm

Ah Chad you have finally enlightened me as to where Michael Jackson is…he is in the comments. : ) Whew so glad to have that little mystery resolved. LOL Also thank you for letting us know some famous people who share leap year birthdays.


Liz February 29, 2012 at 7:49 am

Thanks for the facts and tips. We will definitely be singing the Jump Rope rhyme during our jump rope obstacle course, and we will talk about all of the fun facts as we work on our Leap Year Time Capsules 🙂 Superman was born on Leap Day, the kids will love that one!!



Mary Ann March 1, 2012 at 1:04 pm

Isn’t it amazing that the Times has the power to arbitrarily set a birthday for a super hero. I too am happy about it!


Adrienne February 29, 2012 at 12:27 pm

Thanks for all the info. I’m a new subscriber. 🙂


Mary Ann March 1, 2012 at 1:03 pm

Welcome, welcome. I hope you come often. : )


Delores March 27, 2014 at 7:09 pm

Spot on with this write-up, I seriously believe this
web site needs a lot more attention. I’ll probably be
back again to read more, thanks for the


Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: