What do you plan to do on Leap Day this year?
Do you think adding an extra day to the calendar was the best solution for keeping the Julian Calendar on track? Why or why not?
Did you realize that figuring out how to make the calendar accurate was so complicated? What surprised you most about the idea to add a leap day?
If you had the power to get everyone in the world to focus on one global issue on Leap Day, what would it be? Why? And what would you have people do about the issue on that day to bring about a positive and lasting change?
- Remind students that Leap Day only comes once every four years. As a class, identify some of the biggest changes that have taken place in the world over the past four years.
- Then point out that each student in the room has changed, too. This is inevitable because they can't stop growing and they can't stop experiencing life. Every time they go somewhere or learn something new, they change. Sometimes the change is good-sometimes it could be better. But each change has an impact on their lives.
- Encourage students to think about what they were like four years ago. Where did they live? What were their favorite things? What did they like to do? Is there one thing they wish they could go back and change? Or have they overcome something and wish they could go back and tell their younger selves that everything will be OK?
- For older students, encourage them to think about what their lives will be like four years into the future. Where do they want to be? What do they need to do to get there?
- As a class, review how to write a friendly letter. Make sure students know how to incorporate the six parts: heading, greeting, body, closing, signature and postscript.
- Encourage students to think about what they'd most like to say to their younger or future selves. Then give them time to write a friendly letter. Instruct students to be honest and stay focused as they write their letters.
CUSTOMIZE THE LESSON:
Almost everyone is familiar with the concept of leap year, but the reasoning behind it is a little complicated. Discover the science behind this extra day on the calendar with this article from the National Air & Space Museum.
Read this Smithsonian magazine article to find out why one Johns Hopkins University professor of physics and astronomy insists that the most widely used calendar in the world—instituted by Pope Gregory XIII in 1582—needs to go.
In honor of Leap Day, read this Smithsonian magazine article to learn a bit about how frogs leap.
Like mythological Greek gods of old, superheroes captivate the imaginations of people of all ages. And it all started with Superman, whose fictional birthday—according to some accounts—happens to be February 29, 1938. Explore this site to see items in the Smithsonian’s collections related to superheroes, including comic books, original comic art, movie and television costumes and props and memorabilia.
Today, most people communicate with each other through email or online apps. But that wasn’t always the case. Not so long ago, letters ruled the day. Use these lesson plans, presented by the Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access, to teach students how to evaluate and analyze letters, as well as write their own.
When most people think of a letter, they picture handwriting on a piece of paper. But according to experts, a “letter” can take many forms: voicemails, emails, audio recordings and even a carved coconut. Read this Smithsonian Insider article to learn more.