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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
Cycles of harmony: Action research into the effects of drama on conflict management in schools 13-page PDF paper which, "describes the first five years of an ongoing action research project (1996-2000) investigating the possibilities of using a combination of drama techniques and peer teaching on a whole-school basis to help school students explore the causes of conflict, and develop strategies for conflict prevention and mediation ... A number of principles relating both to conflict management and to drama, together with a tentative pedagogy for using dramatic strategies and techniques have emerged. These are elucidated, and the project and some of its provisional findings are described."
Peace new birth, number 1 Newsletter of a conflict resolution education program in Armenia, with most stories by school children.
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.
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.
I Painted Peace: Handbook on Peace Building with and for Children and Young People This 72-page illustrated handbook has been designed and developed together with children and young people for children and young people. It is, however, also meant to be of use and interest to adults. The children and young people involved in the production of this handbook would like to promote, build and sustain peace in their local communities, schools, districts, and nations. The handbook may be most suitable for children and young people aged 12 years and upwards. The idea behind this handbook is to encourage more adults to listen to girls' and boys' voices carefully and seriously and to work with them as partners in creating and sustaining peace. In this way, the handbook helps to promote children's participation leading to the better fulfilment of children's rights. Children's contributions are presented in the following sections: - Children's visions on peace - Children's understanding of peace building - Children's understanding of the history and the impact of conflict - Opportunities for children's participation in peace building at different levels (individual, family, children's organisation, school, community, district, national, international) - including examples of activities and the impact of children's participation at these different levels; - Assessment of what helps and gets in the way of children's peace building efforts - Recommendations and proposals to strengthen children's role as agents of peace
Core nonverbal communication concepts Word document examining nonverbal communication, with exercises and games.
Participatory Theatre for Conflict Transformation Training Manual Participatory Theatre for Conflict Transformation is a way for artists to apply their creative energy to the cause of lasting peace. This 50-page manual, developed by Search for Common Ground while working in the Democratic Republic of Congo, provides background information on the use of participatory theatre as well as workshop and presentation strategies honed in more than 600 performances in front of more than 500,000 spectators.
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.
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.
For the Sake of Children: Peacebuilding Storytelling Guide Online version of a book of story-based activities focused on promoting peace awareness in young people. "The intention of the peace-building stories and activities presented in this book is for any person involved with children, whether a parent, a grandparent, a teacher, a child-care worker, or a health care professional, to ignite children’s imaginations and expand their understandings about peace and how it can be created and become an active part of the creation process." The activities promote the development and sharing of stories with the following identified peace-building elements. - happy endings - everyone winning - nonviolent resolution - imaginative and creative - challenges existing stereotyping - faith and hope - peace with the environment - finding personal peace - elements that support the idea that peace is possible
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."
Interpersonal skills for dealing with conflict: Respect and support in action Powerpoint presentation introducing interpersonal skills proven successful in dealing with conflict.
Nonviolence playlets 25-page MS Word document providing examples of nonviolence in action. "These short playlets are intended to dramatically reconstruct actual experiences in which nonviolent direct action has been used, successfully, to overcome violence." Designed for use with youth of different ages.
Role play for nonverbal involvement activity Word document presenting a role play exercise in nonverbal communication.
Communication for competency Word document exploring nonverbal and verbal communication with emphasis on direct and indirect language, with exercises.
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.
Bug board Pdf document for teachers of young students (K-3) to help them identify and deal positively with angry feelings.
Hip-Hop artists: Lesson and activity excerpted from the Tanenbaum curriculum COEXIST 5-page PDF lesson plan in which students (grade 6-12), "will learn about stereotypes as well as how to identify and challenge their own biases. Students will also make connections to religion as an important aspect of identity and an influence within the realm of Hip-Hop."
Core nonverbal communication concepts Twenty-six page training packet exploring nonverbal communication.
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.