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As the saying goes, "Leap year comes one year in four, and February has one day more." These fun, festive ideas will help you and your kids make the most of this quadrennial event.
1. Play leapfrog. Not only is it topical, it's also a great way to burn off energy when you're stuck inside. Try the "Leapfrog, Leapfrog, Snake, Snake" variation, where the partners also take turns crawling through each other's legs. Got at least four kids? Set up a race.
2. Declutter and do good. You've got an extra day, why not put it to good use? When organizing with kids, the key is to find a fun project that won't take too long. Nicole Abramovici of Genius Organizing suggests enlisting your kids to help you clean your closet. "If they're old enough, ask their opinion about what to toss. You can even have a fashion show—kids often have a great perspective and will think of unique looks and unexpected pairings." When you're finished, you and your child should bring the giveaway pile to a worthy recipient, like a local charity shop or homeless shelter.
3. Get out of town. Leap Day is a Monday, so if you can pull the kids from school for a long-weekend getaway, it's worth searching online for special Leap-Day–related hotel and airline travel deals. For example, at the ART Hotel in Denver, room rates are 29% off on February 29. The Vanderbilt Grace in Newport, Rhode Island, is offering three-night stays for the price of two. And Leap-Day babies, take note: Half Moon Resort in Jamaica is offering celebrants a 29-cent room rate for February 29 (proof of birthdate is required).
4. Answer the "Why do we have Leap Day?" question. This story, originally published in Highlights magazine, explains the origins of Leap Day in concrete, kid-friendly terms.
5. Make a time capsule. Have your child create a time capsule to open on the next Leap Day. He or she can write a letter, set goals for the next few years and add a current photo or art project. Be sure to seal it securely and label it "Do not open until Leap Day 2020!"
6. Stargaze. You're already talking about Earth's orbit and its effect on the calendar, so why not dust off the telescope? Due to Leap Day, there will be no last-quarter moon in North America this month (see the full explanation at Space.com). But Leap-Night observers will see a faint glow called the zodiacal light, which extends upwards from the horizon in a cone shape.
7. Bake cupcakes in honor of those celebrating Leap Day birthdays. As if you really need an excuse to whip up a batch of treats. Bonus points if you decorate them with frogs or the number "29."
8. Figure out everyone's ages in leap years. Kids are sure to laugh when they realize their parents are tweens.
9. Create a playlist. Think "Leap of Faith" (Bruce Springsteen), "Leap Frog" (Dizzy Gillespie), "Jump" (Van Halen) and anything by Ja Rule, who was born on Leap Day.
10. Watch the movie "Annie." Leapin' Lizards, how could you not?
11. Jump rope or hand clap with a Leap Day twist. Use this rhyme: "Leap year, leap year when will you be? Every four years, then you'll see. You want more? We do too! How many more can you leap [or clap] to?"
12. Honor an old-time tradition. In certain European countries, Feb. 29 was considered a day that women were allowed to propose marriage to men. For a twist on the custom, host a group playdate, put on some music and have the girls ask the boys to dance. (This probably works best with preschoolers and toddlers, who haven't yet figured out that being self-conscious is a thing.)
13. Go geocaching. On the weekend immediately before as well as on February 29 itself, players will find special souvenirs in honor of Leap Day.
14. Walk or run for a good cause. Feb. 29 is also Rare Disease Day, and kids and parents can raise money on Virtual Run Events for the patient-advocacy group National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD). How it works: You register online (a portion of each fee goes to NORD), complete your 2.29 miles in your own time and post your results. They'll even send you a finisher's medal.
15. Visit your library and check out a book about Leap Day. The site Leap Year Day has a list of suggestions.
16. Make a frog mask. Kids Craft Room has an easy, adorable version complete with a fly-catching tongue.
17. Learn about being a Leapling. Falsified birth certificates, confused DMV clerks and double birthday celebrations—Leap Year Day has lots of first-person stories from the Feb. 29 crowd.
18. Delve into history. Take the time to research some notable people born on Feb. 29, like John Philip Holland, who invented the first modern submarine for the U.S. Navy.
19. Work a worksheet. Buy yourself some quiet time with this cute printable maze of a frog trying to find some flies.
20. Go to a Leap Day event. Leap Year Day has a list of events happening around the country, some specific to Leaplings and others open to anyone.
22. Brush up on math. Scholastic has a list of math rules and word problems related to Leap Day.
23. Practice your long jumps. Hands On As We Grow has some tips for making this Olympic event kid-friendly.
24. Try to predict the future. Ask your kids to think about what life will be like on the next Leap Day. Who will be president? What will the latest mobile phone do? How else will technology have changed?
25. Research animals known for their jumping or pouncing. Bring on the kangaroos and mountain lions!
26. Estimate a measurement. Have everyone guess which household item measures 29 inches long—the person who gets the closest wins a prize (29 M&Ms, maybe?).
27. Plan a scavenger hunt. Make the kids find 29 different Leap-Day-themed items.
28. Throw a party. Brittany Schwaigert of Grey Grey Designs hosted a pretty, playful Leap-Day–themed party that was fun enough for the kids and stylish enough for the adults.
29. Reward yourself with a cocktail. In honor of February 29, John Griffin of Kitchen Riffs has developed this drink, which he calls "delectable and martini-like," based on a 1928 recipe from renowned bartender Harry Craddock of The Savoy in London. "Once you taste it, you probably won’t wait four years to have another," he writes. So it's not technically kid-friendly, but you've definitely earned it.