How to Have a Happy Leap Year

1850212999_0904f6b548_bI’ve been reading about superstitions surrounding Leap Year, and it seems that some folks associate the day with bad luck. I think Friday the 13th has already claimed the title “the day of bad luck,” so why not treat February 29 as a day of fun and opportunity?

Here are some suggestions for making leap year a happy occasion for our students:

1. Teach students the rhyme “Thirty days has September.” (Don’t know it? I teach it at the beginning of my new vocabulary lesson on YT.) Use the rhyme as a warm-up and ask if they know a different way to remember how many days there are in each month.

2. Teach a related idiom or proverb and keep it on the board throughout the lesson. Give a small prize to someone who can use it in a natural context. Suggestions? In my video on leap year idioms and proverbs I include a leap of faith, look before you leap, by leaps and bounds, and go the extra mile.

3. Find out who knows why we have a leap year every four years. To be fair, start with a short trivia quiz that all students can try.

  • Did the Egyptians know about a need for leap year? (Answer: yes)
  • Which calendar came first? Julian, Roman, or Gregorian? (Answer: Roman)
  • Have we calculated leap year correctly and completely accounted for it in our present calendar? (Answer: no)

After those quick questions, ask, “Why do we need leap year?” (Answer: In short, we need to make sure our calendar accurately follows the Earth’s movement around the sun. Note at least one source for later reference. I trust the writers at

4. Hold a debate. Debates can be fun, even if you’re on the losing side. Why not see if the class can argue for and against having leap year.

  • Was creating one additional day the best solution? Is it still the best decision for us today? Perhaps what this fast-paced modern society needs is an extra hour in a day here and there throughout the year — on 24 different days to be exact.
  • If February 29 is not on the calendar every year, why not make it an unpaid vacation day for all workers who want it?

5. Talk about a tradition. Even a 1-star movie can give you something to talk about. The trailer for Leap Year (2010) is cute and brief. It can spark a discussion on the ideal marriage proposal. As a bonus, see who can catch an idiom embedded in the clip (around 2:15) — a leap of faith.

Happy Leap Year!

Photo Credit:

One Lady Leaping (November 2007) by Lauren Manning. Retrieved from the Creative Commons on Flickr.



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