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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
Peace new birth, number 5 Newsletter of the Peace Education Centers of Armenis - Peace new birth, number 5
Art for Peace Art Start Cards A set of art start cards that provide 5 conflict resolution concepts for students to choose as a theme, 10-15 different art project ideas, and 6 different art tips. These cards also include a glossary for what might be unfamiliar art terms and the art supplies helpful in creating art projects.
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.
Peace new birth, number 7 Newsletter of the Peace Education Centers of Armenis - Peace new birth, number 7
Spatial invasion Word document with role play to emphasize personal space and boundaries.
Role play for nonverbal involvement activity Word document presenting a role play exercise in nonverbal communication.
Nonverbal communication card game: Gesture version Word document with instructions for game in which groups identify nonverbal gestures.
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.
Peace new birth, number 2 Newsletter of the Peace Education Centers of Armenis - Peace new birth, number 2
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.
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.
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.
Bug board Pdf document for teachers of young students (K-3) to help them identify and deal positively with angry feelings.
Peace new birth, number 6 Newsletter of the Peace Education Centers of Armenis - Peace new birth, number 6
Peace bridges: Newsletter of Peace Education Centers, issue #9, 2007 Ninth edition of the Newsletter of the Peace Education Centers of Armenis
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.
Peace new birth, number 3 Newsletter of the Peace Education Centers of Armenis - Peace new birth, number 3
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.
Core nonverbal communication concepts Word document examining nonverbal communication, with exercises and games.