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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 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.
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."
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)
Theater and CRE Powerpoint presentation exploring the use of theater arts in conflict resolution education.
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.
Core nonverbal communication concepts Word document examining nonverbal communication, with exercises and games.
Nonverbal communication and conflict: It's not what you say that counts Powerpoint presentation exploring nonverbal communication and conflict for children. Introduces PIE in the SKY idea, which stands for Sending and receiving messages of Power, Involvement, and Emotion: Skills and Knowledge for our Youth.
Peace new birth, number 2 Newsletter of the Peace Education Centers of Armenis - Peace new birth, number 2
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."
Peace new birth, number 7 Newsletter of the Peace Education Centers of Armenis - Peace new birth, number 7
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.
Don't Laugh at Me Teachers Guide: Grades 2-5 Creating a Ridicule-Free Classroom Don't Laugh At Me provides an effective tool for establishing a caring climate in which the emotional and physical abuse children suffer because of peer ridicule, bullying and other asocial behaviors is far less likely to occur. Operation Respect developed the Don't Laugh at Me (DLAM) programs, one for grades 2-5, another for grades 6-8 and a third for summer camps and after-school programs. All of the programs utilize inspiring music and video along with curriculum guides such as this one based on the well-tested, highly regarded conflict resolution curricula developed by the Resolving Conflict Creatively Program (RCCP) of Educators for Social Responsibility (ESR). Visit http://www.operationrespect.org to sign up for the full free curriculum kit which includes evaluations, CD and Video along with the curriculum guides.
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 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.
Marital and partnership communication Powerpoint presentation discussing communication in relationships: including gender differences, nonverbal communication, marital communication, marital conflict and domestic violence.
Drama for Conflict Transformation Toolkit: Youth Theater for Peace Youth leaders and adult facilitators can use the Drama for Conflict Transformation Toolkit to create a customized training agenda based on their needs, timetable, and cultural context. Across Kyrgyzstan, youth participants in the Youth Theater for Peace (YTP) program are using the Drama for Conflict Transformation methodology introduced in the toolkit to create community conversation about conflict issues. Since 2010, participants have collaborated with more than 50,000 audience members to talk about solutions to bullying in schools, labor migration, bride kidnapping, resource scarcity, and substance abuse.
Name that emotion Word document that presents an exercise to identify emotions as people act them out without words or sound.
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.
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.