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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
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 8 Newsletter of the Peace Education Centers of Armenis - Peace new birth, number 8
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).
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)
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.
Peace bridges: Newsletter of Peace Education Centers, issue #9, 2007 Ninth edition of the Newsletter of the Peace Education Centers of Armenis
Theater and CRE Powerpoint presentation exploring the use of theater arts in conflict resolution education.
Bridging the Fields of Drama and Conflict Management This 450-page manuscript reports on the findings of an interdisciplinary and comparative action research project aimed at improving conflict handling among adolescent school children by using the medium of educational drama. Teams worked with youth in Australia, Malaysia and Sweden. In addition to field reports and an extensive theory review, the book includes an appendix with descriptions of all the drama exercises used in DRACON.
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.
Peace new birth, number 2 Newsletter of the Peace Education Centers of Armenis - Peace new birth, number 2
Core nonverbal communication concepts Word document examining nonverbal communication, with exercises and games.
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.
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.
Core nonverbal communication concepts Twenty-six page training packet exploring nonverbal communication.
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.
2010-2011 Playworks Playbook Playworks is a non-profit organization whose mission is to improve the health and well-being of children by increasing opportunities for physical activity and safe, meaningful play. The Playbook, a 390-page pdf, provides full descriptions of games and activities appropriate for K-5 school children. They are organized in the following categories: Ice Breakers; Readiness Games; Tag Games; Cooperative Games; Core Playground Games and Sports; Core Games Modifications; and Health and Fitness - FitKid Program. Also included is structured curriculum in Violence Prevention and Peace Promotion. The Violence Prevention materials focus on providing students with a set of foundation skills for preventing violence using a framework called the Five Fingers of Safety. The Peace Promotion materials focus on proactive measures to encourage and foster a healthy community, and can be used with a variety of student groups.
Name that emotion Word document that presents an exercise to identify emotions as people act them out without words or sound.
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."
Communication for competency Word document exploring nonverbal and verbal communication with emphasis on direct and indirect language, with exercises.
Training overview Word document with training overview for faculty participants in nonverbal communication training.