Student leadership games are great fun, highly engaging and great at developing essential leadership skills.

Leadership skills are essential for success in life, but they are not always taught in the classroom.  The Young Leaders team believe that leadership is most successful when it’s explicitly taught, through engaging lessons and activities.

The use of leadership games and activities helps students develop and practice leadership skills in a fun and engaging way.

Here are 10 student leadership games games that teach leadership skills to primary school students in Australian and New Zealand schools:


1. The Blindfold Challenge.

In this game students must work together to complete a task while one or more of them are blindfolded.

The blindfolded students must rely on the verbal instructions of their teammates, who must communicate clearly and effectively. The task can be anything from building a tower with blocks, to navigating an obstacle course, to finding a hidden object.

This game encourages leadership skills such as communication, trust, collaboration, and problem-solving.


2. The Marshmallow Challenge.

This game challenges students to build the tallest free-standing structure with 20 sticks of spaghetti, one metre of tape, one metre of string, and one marshmallow. The marshmallow must be on top of the structure. Students have a limited time to complete the challenge.

This leadership game promotes leadership skills such as creativity, innovation, planning, and resource management.


3. The Human Knot.

This game is loads of fun and is a great team-building exercise. It involves a group of students standing in a circle and grabbing the hands of two other students across from them. The goal is to untangle the human knot without letting go of any hands. Students must work together to find a solution, while being respectful and supportive of each other.

This student leadership game develops a variety of leadership skills such as teamwork, cooperation, patience, and conflict resolution.


4. The Balloon Tower.

Students are required to build the highest tower possible with balloons and tape. They need to work in teams of four. Give each team 10 balloons and a roll of tape. Limit the time to build their tower to 15 minutes, to encourage them to work efficiently and cooperatively.

This student leadership game teaches leadership skills such as delegation, coordination, strategy, and competition.


5. The Egg Drop Challenge.

Challenge students to design and build a device that can protect an egg from breaking when dropped from a certain height.

The students must work in teams of three or four. Give each team a set of materials such as cardboard, paper, plastic bags, straws, rubber bands, etc.

Give them 15 minutes to create their device, which must fit inside a shoebox.

When they are finished, drop each device from a height of two metres and checks if the egg is intact or not.

This game develops leadership skills such as engineering, experimentation, risk-taking, and evaluation.


6. The Leader Says.

This game is like Simon Says, but with a twist.

Choose one student to be the leader, and the rest must follow their commands. However, the leader can only give commands that start with “The leader says”.

If the leader gives a command without saying “The leader says”, the students should not follow it. If they do, they are out of the game. The last student remaining becomes the new leader.

This student leadership game helps student practise leadership skills such as listening, following directions, giving directions, and self-control.


8. The Bridge Building Challenge.

This is a great challenge requiring students to build a bridge that can support a certain weight using limited materials.

In teams of four or five students get a set of materials such as popsicle sticks, glue, paper clips, string, etc.

The students have 20 minutes to design and construct their bridge, which must span a gap of at least 30 cm between two tables or chairs. The bridge should support as much weight as possible. Using a weight measure the strength of the finished products. The team with the strongest bridge wins.

This game develops high level leadership skills such as design thinking, collaboration, testing, and feedback.


8. The Scavenger Hunt.

Everyone has heard about the Scavenger Hunt, but did you know it’s a great way to develop leadership skills?

This game involves a group of four students.

Put students into teams of four and ask them to search for clues or items hidden around the school or classroom.  Each team gets a list of clues or items to find. The clues or items can be related to a theme or topic that the teacher chooses, such as history, science, literature, etc.

After 30 minutes each team should complete the scavenger hunt and return to their teacher with their findings. The team with the most clues or items found wins.

This student leadership game teaches leadership skills such as research, exploration, curiosity, and time management.


9. The Shark Tank Challenge.

This game challenges students to pitch an idea for a product or service that solves a problem or meets a need in their community or school.

Students should work in groups of three. Give each team a sheet of paper and a pen to write down their idea and prepare their pitch. The pitch should include the name of the product or service, its features and benefits, its target market and customers, its cost and revenue, and its competitive advantage.

After preparing their pitch, they should practise it before presenting it the teacher and the rest of the class, who act as the sharks or investors.

The sharks can ask questions and give feedback to the teams and decide whether to invest in their idea or not.

Leadership abilities such as entrepreneurship, creativity, persuasion, and presentation skills are the main focus of this activity.



10. Paper Bag Dramatics

This game requires teams of four students to pick a paper bag that contains different objects. The team must write, plan, and act out a skit based on the objects in their bag. The other teams must guess what the objects are.

This game encourages students to be creative, expressive, and confident.


Want more great leadership ideas?

Subscribe to TOOLBOX TUESDAY. A fortnightly newsletter full of tools, tips and strategies to help you build a world class student leadership program. I’ll send you a super handy Language of Leadership Guide to get you started.