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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
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.
Peace bridges: Newsletter of Peace Education Centers, issue #9, 2007 Ninth edition of the Newsletter of the Peace Education Centers of Armenis
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.
They drop beats, not bombs: Music and dance in youth peace-building 19-page PDF article from the Australian Journal of Peace Studies, volume 3, 2008 which "focuses on how young people can use music and dance for peacebuilding. It utilises the framework of positive peace so it is concerned with much more than the absence of war or direct violence. Positive peace is a peace with fustice, including gender justice. It involves an assurance of fair social, economic and political arrangements’ and the preservation of human rights. Peacebuilding from this perspective seeks ‘to prevent, reduce, transform, and help people recover from violence in all forms, even structural violence that has not yet led to massive civil unrest."
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.
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.
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)
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.
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."
Iconic communication activity Word document which presents iconic communication activity taken from M. Remland's, "Gesture and Movement as Iconic Communication Activity."
Communication for competency Word document exploring nonverbal and verbal communication with emphasis on direct and indirect language, with exercises.
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.
Introduction to nonverbal communication Word document introducing workshop on nonverbal communication, with exercises and games.
Core nonverbal communication concepts Twenty-six page training packet exploring nonverbal communication.
Interpersonal skills for dealing with conflict: Respect and support in action Powerpoint presentation introducing interpersonal skills proven successful in dealing with conflict.
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
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.
Communication and culture Word document discussing communication cues.