Celebrate Leap Day!

As part of our free February 2024 Activity Calendar, we're launching a special activity for an only-happens-every-four-years...leap year! We'll share ways to jump, leap and play like creatures who love to hop, all in celebration of the gift of a whole extra day—a bonus that is rare enough to feel extremely special!

The Guide

Why do we "Leap" every four years?

Know why February only has 28 days most years and why there is a leap day? Curious? Check out this quick, PBS video

It may be above little kids' heads as to why how our calendar was created necessitates this wonky habit of adding an extra day. But we can talk about how fun it is that, ever four years, we add an extra day, and all the other days after jump or "leap" a day ahead. That's why we call is leap day!

And, remember, kids have very little trouble with special days, so think of leap day as a gift of an extra day to play!

Play like animals who leap!

Talk with kids about what it means to leap and jump in the animal world. 

Play Like a Kangaroo!
Kangaroos are marvelous leapers! Red kangaroos, the largest variety, have a unique body structure that lets them jump far and high—up to 30 feet long and 11 feet high in a single bound! Moreover, kangaroos are one of the few animals that use leaping as their main way to get around.

To leap like a Kangaroo, fold your arms, bend your knees and jump! If it's better for kids, they can use their first two fingers to be kangaroo legs and "jump" as high as they can!

Play Like a Tree Frog!
Tree frogs are amazing in so many ways—from their bulging eyes, to technicolor bodies, to powerful legs. And they are some of the best jumpers in the animal kingdom. They get the power to jump up to seven feet in the air from their stretchy, strong leg muscles! They are also masters of disguise.

To leap like a tree frog, bend down on all fours and leap. You can play a game of leap frog, even!

If you like, put on your favorite costume as you play like a tree frog to add the element of disguise and surprise, too! Want inspiration? Try one of these easy DIY Creature Costume ideas.

Use props to make leaping accessible and/or joyful.

Not all explorers are jumpers. They may not have learned to jump quite yet, or jumping may not be the right match for their bodies. When we use props like ribbons or strips of fabric, we can "leap" with our hands. Gather a few strips or ribbons per person and just have fun making them "leap" by waving your arms. Or, if and when you do jump, incorporate the fabric in your jump to make the leaps even more dramatic and delightful.

You can even use the ribbons or strips of fabric as "squiggles"--a concept you can read more about in this creativity-boosting activity inspired by Carole Lexa Schaefer's marvelous book, The Squiggle.  

Make Leap Day Treats!

Nothing says special day like yummy treats! You can find no shortage of frog-themed treat recipes online. Our colleagues at Highlights Magazine recommend these easy steps to make leapfrog cupcakes: "Bake cupcakes. Top with green icing. Use brown candy-covered chocolate pieces for frog eyes. Add red icing frog lips and green icing bumps around the frog’s head in random locations." This is just one of the 29 sweet, simple ways to spend the extra hours on Leap Day on the Highlights Parenting site

Why is this activity great for kids?

Celebrating the shifts and moments in our calendar or nature's cycle helps kids feel more a part of the world in which they live and more connected to the people and even the creatures we share our world with. Though subtle, this ladders up to a greater sense of belonging that we know provides incredible support as kids navigate their world.

Pretending to be a creature is a super way for kids to take on another’s perspective, a cornerstone of cognitive empathy. Offering simple prompts like the ones here can really get the pretend play rolling and support kids’ imagination and creativity.

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