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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 4 Newsletter of the Peace Education Centers of Armenis - Peace new birth, number 4
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.
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.
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
Bug board Pdf document for teachers of young students (K-3) to help them identify and deal positively with angry feelings.
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 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.
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 5 Newsletter of the Peace Education Centers of Armenis - Peace new birth, number 5
Communication and culture Word document discussing communication cues.
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 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.
Spatial invasion Word document with role play to emphasize personal space and boundaries.
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.
Peace new birth, number 6 Newsletter of the Peace Education Centers of Armenis - Peace new birth, number 6
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.
Training overview Word document with training overview for faculty participants in nonverbal communication training.
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."
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.