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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.

Videos of Possible Interest

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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
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.
Peace new birth, number 8 Newsletter of the Peace Education Centers of Armenis - Peace new birth, number 8
Nonverbal communication card game: Gesture version Word document with instructions for game in which groups identify nonverbal gestures.
Cycles of harmony: Action research into the effects of drama on conflict management in schools 13-page PDF paper which, "describes the first five years of an ongoing action research project (1996-2000) investigating the possibilities of using a combination of drama techniques and peer teaching on a whole-school basis to help school students explore the causes of conflict, and develop strategies for conflict prevention and mediation ... A number of principles relating both to conflict management and to drama, together with a tentative pedagogy for using dramatic strategies and techniques have emerged. These are elucidated, and the project and some of its provisional findings are described."
Role play for nonverbal involvement activity Word document presenting a role play exercise in nonverbal communication.
Nonviolence playlets 25-page MS Word document providing examples of nonviolence in action. "These short playlets are intended to dramatically reconstruct actual experiences in which nonviolent direct action has been used, successfully, to overcome violence." Designed for use with youth of different ages.
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
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.
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.
Core nonverbal communication concepts Word document examining nonverbal communication, with exercises and games.
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.
Communication and culture Word document discussing communication cues.
Peace new birth, number 4 Newsletter of the Peace Education Centers of Armenis - Peace new birth, number 4
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.
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.
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.
Peace new birth, number 6 Newsletter of the Peace Education Centers of Armenis - Peace new birth, number 6
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."
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 bridges: Newsletter of Peace Education Centers, issue #9, 2007 Ninth edition of the Newsletter of the Peace Education Centers of Armenis