By Brittany Carlson
This year is a Leap Year, which means February has 29 days.
The extra “Leap Day” is usually added to February once every four years in order to make up for the difference between our modern calendar and the actual time it takes for the earth to fully revolve around the sun – approximately 365 days, 5 hours, 48 minutes and 45 seconds, according to timeanddate.com.
Since Leap Days are so infrequent, people commemorate them in special ways, such as by proposing or getting married. (The tradition of women proposing to men on Leap Day started as the Irish legend of St. Brigid, according to timeanddate.com).
This year, why not celebrate Leap Day in a way that’s fun for kids as well?
Here are some of my favorite ideas for Leap Day activities with kids.
You can get outside and play leapfrog, hopscotch or jump rope, or make an obstacle course, according to Katelyn Fagan’s blog post “29+ Ideas to Celebrate Leap Year Day for Adults & Kids” (published on whatsupfagans.com). Other ideas from Fagan include visiting a bounce house or flying a kite to watch it “leap” in the air.
Make a special tradition.
Fagan suggests hiding plastic frogs for the kids to have a “Leap Day Frog Hunt.”
Another idea from Fagan is to take photos of your family leaping in different places. As a riff on that idea, you could have a Leaping Photo Scavenger Hunt and take a photo of your group leaping at each location.
Another blogger, Ned Stevens, suggests having your children write letters to their future selves, to open on the next leap day (“9 Ways to Celebrate Leap Year”). I love this idea, although I think I might wait until my kiddos are a little older to try it.
Learn something new.
Depending on how old your kids are and their interests, you look at the night sky on Leap Day and make a star chart with them of the different constellations you see, then look at it again on the next Leap Day. This is especially relevant because the purpose of a Leap Day is to make sure our calendar matches the actual seasons.
Fagan also suggests animal-themed activities like visiting the zoo or sea world, making origami frogs (or other leaping animals), and reading about famous Leap Day babies. (You can find a list of these at leapyearday.com).
Have a party!
Children born on Leap Day can say they are technically one-fourth as old as they really are.
A fun spin on this idea is to have an “unbirthday” party for your kids on Leap Day, telling them how old they would be if they were actually born on Leap Day (by dividing their age by 4).
You could also host a Leap Dinner. We’re having some friends over on Leap Day this year and I thought it would be a great opportunity to make some “leap”-themed foods or desserts and play some leap-themed games. Depending on how fancy you want to be, you could make a dish like veal saltimbocca, which means “leaps/jumps in the mouth” in Italian. Or, just buy some Harry Potter-themed chocolate frogs for dessert. (Alternatively, take everyone to Sweet Frog for frozen yogurt, as my friend Meghann plans to do).
Use it as an opportunity to grow their faith.
Fagan also mentions taking a “leap of faith” on Leap Day by trying something new. This inspired me to make Leap Day an opportunity to grow my kids’ faith. For example, you could talk with your kids about what a leap of faith means, then read a Bible story about someone who did take a leap of faith (think Noah building the ark, Moses reaching his staff over the Red Sea, etc). You could also tell your kids about when you’ve taken a leap of faith and trusted God to do something in your life, and what you learned from the experience.
Then, you could take a leap of faith with your kids by encouraging them to pray about something that’s big or scary to them (trying new school, etc), and/or actually trying something new with them, like eating a new food or registering for a class.
Whatever you choose to do on Leap Day, be sure to document your memories to look back on during the next Leap Day (in 2024). Happy leaping!
Brittany Carlson is a lifelong lover of words and all things chocolate. She is an Army wife and has two sons, Adam (4) and James (2). She has written for several Army community newspapers, including the Stuttgart Citizen (Germany), Fort Leonard Wood Guidon (Missouri) and Fort Belvoir Eagle (Virginia). Brittany holds a Master of Arts in Journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia.
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