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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
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."
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.
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)
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).
Peace new birth, number 1 Newsletter of a conflict resolution education program in Armenia, with most stories by school children.
Communication and culture Word document discussing communication cues.
Communication for competency Word document exploring nonverbal and verbal communication with emphasis on direct and indirect language, with exercises.
Peace new birth, number 3 Newsletter of the Peace Education Centers of Armenis - Peace new birth, number 3
Core nonverbal communication concepts Twenty-six page training packet exploring nonverbal communication.
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.
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 5 Newsletter of the Peace Education Centers of Armenis - Peace new birth, number 5
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
Role play for nonverbal involvement activity Word document presenting a role play exercise in nonverbal communication.
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.
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."
Peace bridges: Newsletter of Peace Education Centers, issue #9, 2007 Ninth edition of the Newsletter of the Peace Education Centers of Armenis
Non-verbal active listening skills Word document which describes active listening and outlines five body language postures that mediators should use when listening.
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.
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.