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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
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."
Name that emotion Word document that presents an exercise to identify emotions as people act them out without words or sound.
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."
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.
2010-2011 Playworks Playbook Playworks is a non-profit organization whose mission is to improve the health and well-being of children by increasing opportunities for physical activity and safe, meaningful play. The Playbook, a 390-page pdf, provides full descriptions of games and activities appropriate for K-5 school children. They are organized in the following categories: Ice Breakers; Readiness Games; Tag Games; Cooperative Games; Core Playground Games and Sports; Core Games Modifications; and Health and Fitness - FitKid Program. Also included is structured curriculum in Violence Prevention and Peace Promotion. The Violence Prevention materials focus on providing students with a set of foundation skills for preventing violence using a framework called the Five Fingers of Safety. The Peace Promotion materials focus on proactive measures to encourage and foster a healthy community, and can be used with a variety of student groups.
Peace bridges: Newsletter of Peace Education Centers, issue #10, 2007 Pdf newsletter of a conflict resolution education program in Armenia, with most stories written by school children.
Interpersonal skills for dealing with conflict: Respect and support in action Powerpoint presentation introducing interpersonal skills proven successful in dealing with conflict.
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."
Communication for competency Word document exploring nonverbal and verbal communication with emphasis on direct and indirect language, with exercises.
Core nonverbal communication concepts Twenty-six page training packet exploring nonverbal communication.
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 new birth, number 5 Newsletter of the Peace Education Centers of Armenis - Peace new birth, number 5
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.
Peace new birth, number 7 Newsletter of the Peace Education Centers of Armenis - Peace new birth, number 7
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.
Bridging the Fields of Drama and Conflict Management This 450-page manuscript reports on the findings of an interdisciplinary and comparative action research project aimed at improving conflict handling among adolescent school children by using the medium of educational drama. Teams worked with youth in Australia, Malaysia and Sweden. In addition to field reports and an extensive theory review, the book includes an appendix with descriptions of all the drama exercises used in DRACON.
Conflict styles Powerpoint presentation which defines conflict style, outlines two key dimensions of conflict style, (concern for self and concern for others) and discusses verbal styles of avoidance, competition and compromise.
Core nonverbal communication concepts Word document examining nonverbal communication, with exercises and games.
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).
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.