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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 6 Newsletter of the Peace Education Centers of Armenis - Peace new birth, number 6
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.
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 2 Newsletter of the Peace Education Centers of Armenis - Peace new birth, number 2
Bug board Pdf document for teachers of young students (K-3) to help them identify and deal positively with angry feelings.
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.
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."
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."
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.
Peace bridges: Newsletter of Peace Education Centers, issue #9, 2007 Ninth edition of the Newsletter of the Peace Education Centers of Armenis
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.
Peace new birth, number 7 Newsletter of the Peace Education Centers of Armenis - Peace new birth, number 7
Communication for competency Word document exploring nonverbal and verbal communication with emphasis on direct and indirect language, with exercises.
Marital and partnership communication Powerpoint presentation discussing communication in relationships: including gender differences, nonverbal communication, marital communication, marital conflict and domestic violence.
Peace new birth, number 5 Newsletter of the Peace Education Centers of Armenis - Peace new birth, number 5
Peace new birth, number 1 Newsletter of a conflict resolution education program in Armenia, with most stories by school children.
Core nonverbal communication concepts Twenty-six page training packet exploring nonverbal communication.
Nonverbal communication card game: Gesture version Word document with instructions for game in which groups identify nonverbal gestures.
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.
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).