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Expressive Arts Programs

Arts are a vital complement to conflict resolution skill-building. When we couple arts activities with discussions that build conflict resolution skills, the skills can be more tangible and reflection can deepen. These third graders explored anger when upset feelings weren’t actually erupting; they used writing to befriend anger. Students tried out new ideas: that anger sends a message that we can pay attention to, and that we can learn to express anger’s message constructively. By interlacing the lesson with songs and creative writing, the skills themselves were anchored in a multi-faceted way.

Expressive arts include a panoply of activities like drama, dance, musical theatre, graphic art, visual art, performance art; music, and creative writing to name the most common forms. All of these artistic endeavors offer opportunities for conflict discovery – a process of reflection and increasing awareness about one’s orientations to and reactions to conflict.

Art has the power to connect people and build community. In addition to developing an affirmative classroom climate, activities with music, storytelling, creative movement, poetry, and dramatics can help students gain deeper understanding of social situations, reinforce important social messages, and provide direct opportunities to practice skills relating to conflict resolution. Assignments in drawing, painting, and sculpting, as well, can be structured to explore the dynamics of relationships. Over the past two decades, in particular, songwriters, poets, and conflict resolution trainers have been devising new material to explore peace building creatively.

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Sample Catalog Resources

Below you'll find a randomized listing of up to 20 related items (we may have more...) drawn from our Resource Catalog.

Resource Title Description Links
Drama for Conflict Transformation Toolkit: Youth Theater for Peace Youth leaders and adult facilitators can use the Drama for Conflict Transformation Toolkit to create a customized training agenda based on their needs, timetable, and cultural context. Across Kyrgyzstan, youth participants in the Youth Theater for Peace (YTP) program are using the Drama for Conflict Transformation methodology introduced in the toolkit to create community conversation about conflict issues. Since 2010, participants have collaborated with more than 50,000 audience members to talk about solutions to bullying in schools, labor migration, bride kidnapping, resource scarcity, and substance abuse.
Peace bridges: Newsletter of Peace Education Centers, issue #9, 2007 Ninth edition of the Newsletter of the Peace Education Centers of Armenis
Nonverbal communication and conflict: It's not what you say that counts Powerpoint presentation exploring nonverbal communication and conflict for children. Introduces PIE in the SKY idea, which stands for Sending and receiving messages of Power, Involvement, and Emotion: Skills and Knowledge for our Youth.
Peace new birth, number 1 Newsletter of a conflict resolution education program in Armenia, with most stories by school children.
Speak Truth to Power: Human Rights Defenders Who are Changing Our World The Speak Truth To Power curriculum (296 page PDF) introduces general human rights issues through the stories of some remarkable people working in the field, and urges students to become personally involved in the protection of human rights. The curriculum is based on a book written by Kerry Kennedy that lead to a dramatic production by Ariel Dorfman (the play script is included in the curriculum). It is illustrated with a series of photographic portraits of human rights defenders by the late Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer Eddie Adams. Various editions of Speak Truth to Power have been produced, with this one drawing input from the Chicago Public Schools and Chicago Teachers Union. Also available are Cambodian, Italian, and South African editions, and an edition developed in New York State.The focus of the learning activities varies based on the age-group of students you are working with. In pre-kindergarten through grade 3, human rights learning focuses on respect for self, parents, teachers and others. In grades 4–6 the focus moves to social responsibility, citizenship, and distinguishing wants and needs from rights. For grades 7 and 8, the focus shifts to introducing and enhancing specific human rights. At the high school level, grades 9–12, the focus expands to include human rights as universal standards, integration of human rights into personal awareness, and behavior.
Fitting in: Lesson and activity excerpted from the Tanenbaum curriculum passages to immigration 6-page pdf lesson plan which explores the ideas of home, belonging and fitting in, for grades 1-6. Activities include, "The Sharing Circle," "I am, we are poems" and "Unity and diversity circles."
Training overview Word document with training overview for faculty participants in nonverbal communication training.
Communication and culture Word document discussing communication cues.
Ideas for using emotion cards: Citizenship education for young people with special needs 5-page pdf document which presents a number of images of different emotional states. The cards can be used with particular lessons or to allow children to show how they feel about specific situations.
Name that emotion Word document that presents an exercise to identify emotions as people act them out without words or sound.
Peace new birth, number 8 Newsletter of the Peace Education Centers of Armenis - Peace new birth, number 8
Kids Working It Out Resource Appendix A listing of books, publications and websites provided in the appendix to Tricia S. Jones and Randy O. Compton (Eds.) 2003 book Kids Working It Out: Stories and Strategies for Making Peace in Our Schools.
Introduction to nonverbal communication Word document introducing workshop on nonverbal communication, with exercises and games.
Talking stick, The and The tree of gratefulness: Autumn -- thankfulness at harvest time 7-page PDF lesson plan which helps students, "to use nature as a means of expressing respect and gratitude." Projects include creating and using a talking stick.
Role play for nonverbal involvement activity Word document presenting a role play exercise in nonverbal communication.
Marital and partnership communication Powerpoint presentation discussing communication in relationships: including gender differences, nonverbal communication, marital communication, marital conflict and domestic violence.
The Art of Peacemaking: A Guide to Integrating CR Education into Youth Arts Program This resource guide provides information and tools that introduce arts teachers to conflict resolution skills and processes. The guide also contains various arts-based exercises that can be used to introduce conflict resolution concepts to young people in the classroom. These exercises serve merely as a starting point; arts teachers are encouraged to develop their own activities that will work best within the settings in which they teach. Because this guide wad developed after four years of the Partnership's initiative to integrate conflict resolution into arts programs, it contains descriptions of how arts organizations have integrated conflict resolution into their work with youth, schools, and other community organizations. (Author)
Peace new birth, number 2 Newsletter of the Peace Education Centers of Armenis - Peace new birth, number 2
Iconic communication activity Word document which presents iconic communication activity taken from M. Remland's, "Gesture and Movement as Iconic Communication Activity."
Core nonverbal communication concepts Word document examining nonverbal communication, with exercises and games.