AMP | Kids is proud to partner with The Mini Page, celebrating over 50 years of providing engaging and fun learning opportunities to young readers across the country. This feature was originally syndicated in newspapers the week of February 22 – February 28, 2020. It is distributed digitally here with permission from Andrews McMeel Syndication. Enjoy and share with the young learners in your life!
At the end of this week, people all over the world will experience a special day, one that usually comes only every four years. This year, February will have 29 days, and 2020 will have 366 days. In most years, February has only 28 days.
How did we get this extra day?
A calendar lesson
We define a year as the number of days it takes for the Earth to orbit the sun. (A day is one rotation of the Earth on its axis.) The problem is that the Earth doesn’t orbit the sun in a round number of days. In fact, it takes 365 1/4 days for our planet to circle the sun.
If we didn’t have leap days and leap years, eventually our months would shift to different seasons. For example, July might be in the springtime.
In 1582, Pope Gregory XIII introduced the Gregorian calendar. This version of the calendar helped solve the problem of the shifting days and months. This is how it works:
- Every year that can be evenly divided by 4 is a leap year, EXCEPT:
- Years that can be evenly divided by 100 (centuries) are not leap years, BUT
- Years that can be divided by 400 are leap years.
Time for some math
Whew! Let’s give it a try. Put your math hat on.
This year is 2020. But what about 2021?
2020 ÷ 4 = _____
Therefore, 2020 is ____ is not ____ a leap year. (Check one.)
2021 ÷ 4 = _____
2021 will ____ will not ____ be a leap year because it is not evenly divisible by 4.
What about centuries?
We celebrated the last year of the century (100 years) and millennium (1,000 years) 20 years ago, in 2000. You may be alive when the next millennium arrives in 2100!
2100 ÷ 4 = _____
2100 ÷ 100 = _____
2100 ÷ 400 = _____
So 2100 will ____ will not be ____ a leap year. Why?
What do we do with the extra day in a leap year? It is tacked on to the end of February. It becomes February 29. It’s called leap day.
Do you know anyone with a leap birthday? You might think that someone born on Feb. 29, called a leapling or a leaper, would have a birthday only every four years. But most leap birthdays are celebrated on Feb. 28 or March 1 in non-leap years.
A remembering rhyme
You may already know this rhyme. There are many versions of it. The poem helps us remember the differences in the number of days in each month.
Thirty days hath September,
April, June and November;
Thirty-one the others date,
Except in February, twenty-eight;
But in leap year we assign February, twenty-nine.
On the Web:
On the Web:
- Mommy, Where’s My Birthday? by Lakisha Cornell
- Stink and the Freaky Frog Freakout by Megan McDonald (Stink was born on Feb. 29.)
Teachers: For standards-based activities to accompany this feature, visit Andrews McMeel Syndication. And follow The Mini Page on Facebook!