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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
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.
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.
Nonverbal communication card game: Voice version Word document which describes a nonverbal communication game using the voice only, counting from one to ten to express emotions.
Quaker Peacemakers Poster Collection This set of 10 letter-size posters describes the work of 9 Quakers (members of the Religious Society of Friends) active in various domains of peacemaking. Featured peacemakers include Lewis Fry Richardson, Adam Curle, Bayard Rustin, Elise Boulding, Kenneth Boulding, Priscilla Prutzman, Jennifer Beer, Bill Kreidler and George Lakey. Also featured is the Alternatives to Violence Project (AVP), a Quaker-founded program working in prisons and community settings. Each poster includes a quote, a stylized picture and biographical background information on the featured person or project.
Peace new birth, number 2 Newsletter of the Peace Education Centers of Armenis - Peace new birth, number 2
Peace new birth, number 3 Newsletter of the Peace Education Centers of Armenis - Peace new birth, number 3
Storytelling For Peace In this 4-part series of web articles, Caren Neile outlines a case for the use of stories and storytelling in preventing conflict, reconciling differences and building peace. Included are 7 sample stories from different parts of the world, a select bibliography, and a directory of storytellers and story-educators for peace.
Arts, Creativity and Intercultural Conflict Resolution Literature and Resource Review This 121-page literature and resource review was developed in 2004 and 2005 by the CRANE (Conflict Resolution, Arts and iNtercultural Experience) project at the University of British Columbia. The materials are clustered around the 4 broad themes of global change, innovations in conflict resolution theory and practice, growth and development of arts-based approaches and application of arts-based approaches to conflict resolution across cultures.
Pioneer Peace Pack This resource collection includes information and activities for groups of 10 - 12 year olds who are participating in the U.K.-based outdoor education group known as the Woodcraft Folk. The resource includes instructor overviews and associated handouts and reading materials for activities focused on the following themes: Bullying, Conflict Resolution, War Toys, War Detectives, Child Soldiers and Positive About Peace. The Conflict Resolution module alone includes 6 separate activities. The Woodcraft Folk group describes their goals as follows: "Our aim is to have great fun, but also to try and develop children’s self-confidence and build their awareness of society around them. Through our activities, outings and camps we help our members understand important issues like the environment, world debt and global conflict and, in recent years, we have focused on sustainable development. By encouraging children to think, we hope they will help build a peaceful, fairer world."
Exploring emotional literacy through visual the arts: With embedded literacy and numeracy skills 21-page PDF document created to "enable staff who are not Arts practitioners to carry out this [art based] work. They are designed as individual projects but can equally be extended into small group activities ... The aim is to encourage the young person to express visually emotions that are difficult to articulate verbally." Projects include: Making masks (expressing feelings using facial expressions); Abstract art (expressing feelings using colors and shapes); Designing a chair (expressing how I feel about myself); Creating a book (expressing how I feel, exploring what I know about an issue in my life); and Drawing a neighborhood map (exploring safe and unsafe areas where I live).
Core nonverbal communication concepts Twenty-six page training packet exploring nonverbal communication.
Spatial invasion Word document with role play to emphasize personal space and boundaries.
An Integrated Primary Peace Curriculum: A Beginning This resource package includes integrated primary peace education activities and worksheets related to language arts, literature, math, science, social studies, art, music and drama plus ideas for peace themed presentations and multicultural activities. Peace education web sites are also listed.
Peace bridges: Newsletter of Peace Education Centers, issue #9, 2007 Ninth edition of the Newsletter of the Peace Education Centers of Armenis
Communication for competency Word document exploring nonverbal and verbal communication with emphasis on direct and indirect language, with exercises.
Peace new birth, number 7 Newsletter of the Peace Education Centers of Armenis - Peace new birth, number 7
Youth Video Production Guide This 4-part video guide was put together for United Religions Initiative (URI) Youth Ambassadors by URI Young Leaders Program Steering Committee member, Matthew Youde, from Wales, UK, who is also a filmmaker. He advises on how to produce a number of different videos, from video-diaries to news clips to interviews; how to plan and film different kinds of videos; and special tips for filming interviews.
Jabbertalk: a methodology for international youth work An international collection of groupwork methods and activities, collected by volunteers from the EU-based Don Bosco Youth-Net. Presented as a 114-page pdf divided into activity categories including new games, teamwork, oral expression, non-verbal expression, dance expression, manual expression, musical expression, sherborne, values, behavior-communication-groups, evaluation techniques, and working with video. "All methods in the manual have been tested for years, because they are games which have been played for decades on Don Bosco playgrounds, oratorios, youth clubs, and summer camps."
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."
The Elementary Child: Teaching to the Spirit, Teaching for Peace This combined 2-part article (published in 2 separate issues of Montessori Leadership), provides an overview of how Cathleen Haskins implemented a peace education curriculum in a Montessori classroom. It provides information on Montessori's call for peace education, and specific details on the curriculum autonomously created (activities and exercises) and used with students aged 6-9 years, in both a public Montessori and private.