Leap year comes once every four years, when we add one more day to February, although roughly once a century, a leap year is skipped to keep the seasons in time. The concept of a leap year can be both fascinating and a little confusing for children, especially if they or their friends were born on the actual leap day, February 29. Help your child have a better understanding of this odd day by engaging her in a variety of kid-friendly leap year activities.
Books About Leap Year
Read kid-friendly books that help teach kids what a leap year is and how it came to be. For kids ages 3 and older, "Leopold's Long Awaited Leap Year Birthday," by Dawn Desjardins, follows little Leopold the frog as he learns why his birthday only comes around every four years. Another book to check out is "Mommy, Where's My Birthday?" by Lakisha Cornell, which tells the story of a young boy born on a leap year who is trying to figure out when to celebrate his birthday.
Leap Year Crafts
Work on leaping frog crafts with your child to represent leap year. To make a paper plate leaping frog, have your child paint both sides of a paper plate green and allow it to dry completely. Fold the painted paper plate in half to create a giant frog mouth. Help your child cut out giant eyes from construction paper and tape them to the outside of the plate so that the eyes stand up. Cut out and tape a large red tongue to the inside of the plate. Use green construction paper to cut out frog arms and legs. Tape the arms inside the plate on either end so that they are sticking out. Tape the legs to the bottom of the plate so they are hanging down when you pick up the plate. You can also help your child make a frog from a brown paper bag by painting the bag green. Add large googly eyes to the flap and tape a red tongue underneath the flap. Cut out green arms and legs to complete the frog.
Leap Year Games
Invite your child's friends over to play games with a leap year theme. For one game, spread plastic hoops all around your backyard and put a sign next to each one with a leap year on it. To play, all the kids should start in a circle in the middle of the yard. Call out a leap year, such as 1988 or 2004; the kids must race to find that corresponding hoop and step into it. All the kids must stand in the hoop together. The last person to reach the hoop is out. Play until there is only one child left. The kids can also play leapfrog tag. Put the kids in pairs. One pair is "it" and can only get to the other teams by leapfrogging over each other. Likewise, the other pairs can only leapfrog to get away. If the pair that is "it" catches another pair, they also become "it" and help them try to get the others. The last team to avoid being tagged wins.
Leap Year Myths
Talk to your child about how leap year came to be, when Julius Caesar changed the calendar to keep the year in time with the seasons. Before that, many cultures used myths and folklore to explain the changing seasons, the sun and the moon. Encourage your child to write a mythical short story about how the seasons change, or why leap year comes only once every four years. If she is having trouble coming up with an idea, give her writing prompts such as a certain animal character that can be used as the hero of the myth.
- Leopold's Long Awaited Leap Year Birthday; Dawn Desjardins
- Mommy, Where's My Birthday?; Lakisha Cornell
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