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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 2 Newsletter of the Peace Education Centers of Armenis - Peace new birth, number 2
Training overview Word document with training overview for faculty participants in nonverbal communication training.
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."
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."
Peace new birth, number 8 Newsletter of the Peace Education Centers of Armenis - Peace new birth, number 8
Peace new birth, number 1 Newsletter of a conflict resolution education program in Armenia, with most stories by school children.
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.
Interpersonal skills for dealing with conflict: Respect and support in action Powerpoint presentation introducing interpersonal skills proven successful in dealing with conflict.
Bug board Pdf document for teachers of young students (K-3) to help them identify and deal positively with angry feelings.
Peace bridges: Newsletter of Peace Education Centers, issue #9, 2007 Ninth edition of the Newsletter of the Peace Education Centers of Armenis
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."
Peace new birth, number 5 Newsletter of the Peace Education Centers of Armenis - Peace new birth, number 5
Role play for nonverbal involvement activity Word document presenting a role play exercise in nonverbal communication.
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."
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
Theater and CRE Powerpoint presentation exploring the use of theater arts in conflict resolution education.
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."
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.
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.
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.