What is a Palindrome?

This Hasn’t Happened for 900 Years!

What a day! Not only is it Groundhog Day and Super Bowl Day in the US, but around the world it is a Palindrome Date!!

So what exactly is a Palindrome?

Palindromes are brain teasers that we tend to hook us in. According to Oxford, a  palindrome (pal·in·drome  /ˈpalənˌdrōm/) is “a word, phrase, or sequence that reads the same backward as forward, e.g., madam or nurses run.” We can think of lots of them from simplex:

To complex phrases:

Or how about famous names?

Even the Prime Minister of Cambodia, Lon Nol, had a palindrome for a name who served two terms (1966–67; 1969–71).  He is joined by a Japanese Novelist and manga writer, Nisio Isin, US – Korean author, Mike Kim, who wrote Escaping North Korea: Defiance and Hope in the World’s Most Repressive Country in 2010, and Romanian athlete Anuta Catuna, who competed in the 1996 and 2000 Olympics and won the New York marathon in 1996.

Palindromes can also be discovered in literary reads. For example, even poems share the use of palindromes.


Open floodgates,

once restrained tightly,

suddenly form rippled waters,

expressive thoughts flowing freely,

by frightful heart attending faithfully


faithfully attending heart frightful by

freely flowing expressive thoughts,

waters rippled form suddenly,

tightly restrained once,

floodgates open.” (by Memory Trace)


Can palindromes only be created using literary contexts? The answer is no! Palindromes can also be discovered in numbers. But when does it occur with math or with dates? Today! Groundhog Day 2020!

Quick Example a Palindrome Lesson for Class:

You can even set up a friendly Palindrome Competition in class!

Break them into six teams to create posters to present in a carousel fashion with questions that can be answered from the poster fun facts with a common theme to segue from date to date:

Group 1: Historical Palindrome Date: Have them look up the last time a palindrome date occurred (11/11/1111). What happened in history during this time period? What were the people like? What did they eat? How long did they live? What kind of transportation did they have?

Group 2: What events occurred during Palindrome Week in January 2011? (1/10/11 to 1/19/11)

Group 3: What events occurred during Palindrome Week in February 2012? (2/12/12 to 2/19/12)

Groups 4: What events occurred during Palindrome Week in March 2013?

(Or pick whatever dates you want)

Group 5: Current day (02/02/2020): Current events…like Groundhog Day, Impeachment Trials in US, Coronavirus outbreak.

Group 6: Future Palindrome Date: What will it be like in the year 12/12/2121 (101 years from now)?

Set up the posters around the room and have students read and look at the posters to learn about both palindromes and historical or current events at the same time!

You can extend this lesson by using palindrome words instead of dates. Finding famous people, poetry, phrases. Even have your students make up their own palindromes and then vote on the best ones!

So that is palindromes in a nutshell. They can be fun and engaging for kids because it becomes a puzzle for them to solve.  Their minds will automatically try to think of words or phrases or dates that are palindromes.

What’s the likelihood it will happen again in our lifetime and fall on Groundhog Day? Never. And it is not just because I’m hearing rumors that Punxsutawney Phil is close to retirement!

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