Leap Year

Hello everyone

Google leap-year-2016.gif

It will not have gone unnoticed that yesterday was Leap Day, cute animation above courtesy of Google, that extra day we get every four years.

Even though there won’t be another Leap Year for a while it is a great basis for a lesson including Literacy, Numeracy and some employability elements!

Why do we have it?

We have had Leap Years since 46BC when the calendar was adjusted by Julius Caesar  to take account of how long it takes for the Earth to orbit the Sun.

You can find more specific facts about this in these two articles, the Wikipedia one has a depth of information about the Julian and Gregorian calendars while this Telegraph one has more general information and facts about the day.

Why is it called a Leap Year ?

There is nice short video which asks this and explains why we have it and answers this question and could be good for listening skills are there are some different US accents.

Why the connection with frogs ?

Leap-Day frog

This seems to be the unofficial Leap Year mascot and if you are working in family learning there are lots of activities here at this website .The Making a Time Capsule one of what was happening on this Leap Year day is an activity that could also be done with any adult group on any day.

The tradition of women being able to propose on Leap Day

This would be a good one to discuss and includes social and cultural diversity in the wider area of how people arrange to be married.

Some views on this topic from different women here in this Guardian article.

A woman proposing has also been the basis for two films so you could show extracts from these movies to start the discussion.

The trailer for The Proposal is here – this is an interesting premise for a movie as she is planning to marry to avoid being deported as her visa has run out so a potentially contentious plot line!

The plot of Leap Year, trailer here , is a romantic comedy with a twist.

Losing Pay

If you are a salaried employee then you won’t technically be paid for working on Leap Day. This BBC article discusses why.

According to this petition asking for Feb 29th to be an extra Bank Holiday working on an average salary of £26500 a person would lose £113 for that day, given that there are 233 working days in year.

You could get your students to work out what would be lost for different salaries such as £15,500, £18,250, £29,600, £32,900.

How to calculate the next one

You can use these two diagrams to explain how to work out when Leap Years will happen.

How to know if a year is a Leap Year:

Leap Years are any year that can be evenly divided by 4 (such as 2012, 2016, etc)
except if it can be evenly divided by 100, then it isn’t (such as 2100, 2200, etc)
except if it can be evenly divided by 400, then it is (such as 2000, 2400)

Source of image here 

leap-year-test picture

Source of image here

A linked classroom activity would be to ask questions such as, ‘So would 2026 be a Leap Year? Or 2032? ‘ , You could get your learners to check a series of future years using these divisibility rules.

This links well into discussion of different types of calendars which is again a useful way of introducing culture and diversity.

The Chinese calendar is used to determine the date of festivals such as Chinese New Year and their zodiac calendar assigns animals to each year so you can get your learners to work out which animal they are according to their birth year and graph that. The previous link gives you a calculator for working this out.

Chinese zodiac

Anyone born this year will be born in a Year of the Monkey – signs also have traits associated with them.


In Nepal they use a different calendar   which is 56 years and 8½ months ahead of the Gregorian calendar so it is actually 2072 there at the moment.

If you have ever wanted to live in the future a trip to Kathmandu is an easier way that time travel!

Probability of being born on a Leap Day

For a birthday on Feb 29th the chances are one in 1,461

According to this article    there are several families who have more than one member born on a Leap Day.

‘Two women have given birth to three leap day babies. The Henriksen family from Norway had their children on leap days in 1960, 1964 and 1968.

The most recent family to tie the record is the Estes family from Utah. Their children were born in 2004, 2008 and 2012.’

There is an interesting article here on what it is like to be a Leap Year Baby and the issues with filling in forms and renewing things like driver’s licences.

Final question for you. If you are were celebrating your 18th Leap Year birthday yesterday, ie. the 13th time that you had an actual 29th Feb birthday, how old are you in real life?

There is a Metro article here that will give you the answer as well as some more stories about people who have Leap Day birthdays including a family, Peter Keogh, his son Eric and his granddaughter Bethany Wealth who are the only known family in the world to have three generations all born on February 29, the odds of this happening are 3.11 billion to one.

Hope you enjoyed your extra day!

See you all again soon.


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