• If you are citizen of an European Union member nation, you may not use this service unless you are at least 16 years old.

  • You already know Dokkio is an AI-powered assistant to organize & manage your digital files & messages. Very soon, Dokkio will support Outlook as well as One Drive. Check it out today!


Creative Arts Supplement

Page history last edited by Stephanie Knox 13 years, 4 months ago

4. Creative Arts Supplement


The problems that exist in the world today cannot be solved by the level of thinking that created them.

- Albert Einstein


Building a peaceful world requires creativity since the problems we face cannot be solved at the same level of awareness or consciousness that created them.  Students need to have the skills to think “outside of the box,” and creative arts such as poetry, creative writing, theater, art, and music can be used to help students cultivate skills for creative thinking.  Creative arts also help students access their emotions and feelings, which is an essential step in learning to respect the feelings of others and developing empathy. In this section, we will explore some ways in which you can use creative arts in your classroom. These examples are designed to help you think about how you can use creative arts as an approach to peace education. The possibilities for using creative arts in peace education are nearly endless, and we hope that these examples will help inspire your own creativity.


Poetry has had an important role in peace movements throughout history, as poets have challenged violent systems and oppression.  It has also been used as a form of self-expression and a path to develop inner peace.  Students can benefit from reading and analyzing poems as well as writing their own. 


Although writing poetry can sometimes be intimidating for students, there are various successful ways to integrate poetry into your classroom practice.  One way is to encourage students to write poetry that relates to their daily lives.  Students may also write poetry collectively, which allows students to develop teambuilding skills through the collaborative learning process, and also may make students feel more comfortable about writing poetry. The Sample Lesson below gives an example of a group poetry writing exercise.


In general, teachers need to gauge how much structure students will need in writing poems.  Some students, typically younger students, find that structure, such as using rhyming or a set number of syllables, makes writing poetry easier.  However, other students find such structures to be limiting.  Therefore, it is important to keep your students in mind when deciding on the structure of the creative writing activities in your classroom.

Getting Started: Suggested Activity

A very simple way to get students to write poems is this simple three-stanza poem exercise. Begin by assigning students another identity, and then ask them to write a three-stanza poem from the character’s perspective. The first stanza should be about the past, the second stanza about the present, and the third stanza should be a plea or appeal to the audience. It is a very simple exercise, but it helps students realize that they may be more comfortable writing poetry than they originally thought. Many students who didn’t think they could write poetry may be surprised at their writing abilities after completing this exercise.

Sample Lesson – Poetry


Collective Poetry (Winfield, n.d.)

Collective poetry is an exercise designed to encourage students to work from a shared pattern in order to join their voices in a collective rhythm.


We all have stories. In telling our personal narratives, we come to know each other and ourselves. What are the lyrics of your students' favorite songs? What happens when children begin to imagine this country or their homeland before they were born? What happens when children and their teachers begin to explore the stories of ordinary people, families and self?


This activity creates opportunities for students to write poetry, investigate history, distinguish between the ideas of fact and opinion and participate in the dramatic reading of a story poem.


Woven into the curriculum is the theme of patterns. People are connected to each other through societal patterns. Families are woven into a genetic pattern based on ancestry. Poets and artists often use patterns to express their art. The lesson objectives include student exploration, analysis and creation of patterns.


Collective poetry is an exercise designed to encourage students to work from a shared pattern in order to join their voices in a collective rhythm. It builds community and encourages participation from those too shy to share individually.

Collective Poem Procedure

Give students a 3-by-5 card.

Ask students to number 1 to 5 on the left border.

Then ask them to list:



Ask five students to collectively read their poems. They take turns each reading one line at a time. They read each line in any order until they each have read all five phrases. For instance, the first student might choose to first read his or her favorite sound. After the others choose and read a line, then the first student chooses a second line to read, as do the others, until all five students have read all five lines.


Here is an example of how the first line read of a collective poem might sound with five readers participating:

Student 1: blue, blue, blue, blue, blue

Student 2: in my pink bedroom with my butterfly bear

Student 3: not until you finish your homework

Student 4: tick-tock, tick-tock, tick-tock

Student 5: Whatever!


The lyrical and rhythmic way the collective poem flows often pleasantly surprises both audience and actor. Introduce the idea of patterns with this activity, explaining how the pattern they used to create their list transfers into the rhythm of the collective poem.



Music is a wonderful tool for peace education, as music has the power to transcend all kinds of borders.  Listeners do not always need to understand the words to feel the song's rhythm and feel a connection to the message. Teachers should try to harness the power of music in their classrooms as part of a peace education curriculum. Music can and should be taught as its own class, but music can also be integrated into all areas of the curriculum.


One way to use music is to incorporate music from a variety of cultures for performance and/or practice by the students.  Music can be a great tool to foster students' interest in other cultures, and can be used as an introduction to deeper cultural explorations, such as examining the cultural values that are portrayed in a song's lyrics. Music is also an effective way to study languages.


Another way to use music is to allow students to create their own music.  This can mean that students make their own instruments or create their own lyrics or entire songs.  In the creation of their own songs students can talk about songs that they know and what they like about these songs.  Students can discuss the role of music in their personal lives as well as their society, and explore the meaning of song lyrics and the emotions that songs evoke.


One exciting way to incorporate music into the classroom is to create collective music. Working together on a musical enterprise also allows students to learn important skills of cooperation and teamwork that are important to the general concept of peace.  Making music should rarely be a solitary activity.


Teachers can also use popular music from the past and present to study different issues. For example, teachers can use music in a history class to highlight issues that were important to the generation being studied. Popular music can also be analyzed and serve as a tool for dialogue. Students often listen to music outside the classroom, so using music that is popular can be a way for teachers to connect with their students.  

Sample Lesson – Music



The Sounds of Change

(Adapted from Teaching Tolerance http://www.tolerance.org/activity/sounds-change

Music can create powerful connections between people, help us learn about different cultures, shatter stereotypes, question social injustices and inspire us to create “the world as it should be.” Its purpose extends beyond entertainment to educate, inspire, represent people, influence and change society, and provide social commentary. For young people, in particular, it can prompt investigation and action and help them make sense of the world. This lesson challenges students to analyze and reflect on the messages and lessons of song lyrics and create their own outlets to express a viewpoint or message related to tolerance that is important to them.


Activities will help students:


  • ·        
  • ·        
  • ·        
  • ·        
  • ·        


Essential Questions

  • ·         What can we learn from music?
  • ·         What is the role of music in society?
  • ·         Are young people influenced by the music they listen to?
  • ·         What responsibilities do songwriters have to use their platforms for positive change?
  • ·         Why is the viewpoint of songwriters relevant? 


Early Grades (3-5)

Language Arts, Social Studies, Music

1. As a class, discuss the following questions:  

  1. How many of you like listening to music?
  2. What are the reasons you listen?
  3. How does music make you feel?
  4. Do you think you can learn anything from music? If so, what?


2. On the board, create a list of your favorite songs. Do classmates share similar or different choices? Why might that be? Is it okay to have different musical choices than your friends? Would you be willing to listen to a new song if a friend recommended it?


3. What makes a song “good” in your opinion? A good sound? Interesting words?


4. When you listen to a song, do you really listen to its words or just sing it? Sometimes the same person who sings a song writes the words (lyrics) or the music. Other times different people develop the sound, write the words, and sing it. Often, the songwriter is trying to share a message or point of view with the audience. Can you think of any songs where the songwriter is trying to share a particular message? Refer back to the list you created at the beginning of the lesson for possible examples.


5. Look at the lyrics to a song that from your culture or another culture. Either print handouts of the song’s lyrics, write the lyrics on the board, listen together, or sing the song together.


6. After you listen to the song or read the lyrics, draw a picture or write a few sentences about the message of the song.

7. Share your interpretations with other students. Can you identify any metaphors in the song? (A metaphor is a figure of speech in which a word of phrase that ordinarily represents one thing is used to represent something else.)


8. What do you think the writer/composer hoped would happen when people listened to the song? Do you think the same message would be important or relevant in today’s society (if the song is from the past)? Why or why not?


9. Within your group, brainstorm about other messages/viewpoints that songwriters could sing about that would be relevant to tolerance in your school or community. Think about tolerance of other groups including those with disabilities, those of different religions, ethnic backgrounds, or viewpoints, or those who come from different neighborhoods.


10. Imagine you are a current singer or songwriter who has been asked to write a song about one of these issues to sing at your next concert. Pick the issue you would like to write a song about. Then, write a paragraph about the song you will write including the issue you’ve chosen, why it’s important to you, why you think it’s relevant in your school or community, and what message you would want your song to share.


12. Finally, create a title for your song and a CD cover that illustrates its message.




Art is a powerful way to engage students of all ages and developmental levels, and can be an important way for students to express emotions and relationships.  It can be especially relevant for students who may not be as strong in reading and writing, as it allows them to express and make their opinions known.  Art also has a long history as a mechanism for social change and therefore it is important for students to be able to work with this medium. Like music, art can be taught as its own subject, and can also be integrated into all other subject areas. The following are some examples and suggestions from successful uses of art in peace education. 

Sample Techniques


Many organizations have poster contests as a way to get students excited about a particular issue.  Students can create posters for a specific day (for example, International Human Rights Day on December 10) or they can create posters for any number of school events or campaigns that relate to peace.  This activity can be a contest or not, depending on the intention of the lesson. 

Traditional Artwork

Students can learn about other cultures by creating art that represents traditional or cultural art from various regions of the world. Working with arts and crafts from other cultures teaches students how to understand and respect diversity. From this exercise students can apply what they have learned to create their own cultural artwork that represents their contemporary realities.     

Inner Peace Tree

In this exercise, you will need paper and an object to hang the paper on (either a real tree, or another object to symbolize the tree). Students are given three pieces of paper cut out in the shape of leaves. One leaf represents the personal, one leaf represents the local (community, school, family) and one leaf represents the global. On each leaf, students write a message that starts with “I feel peace when…” and complete the sentence with respect to each level. Then, students hang their leaves on the tree (or post them on a wall in the classroom). This activity can be used to have a dialogue about inner peace and what peace means to the students in their own lives.

War Toys to Peace Art

War Toys to Peace Art (n.d.) is a program that was started in British Columbia, Canada.  Through this program, students learn about how violence is communicated through the media, video games, or toys. Students then begin collecting war toys, such as guns and toy soldiers, from the student body. The students use these war toys to create a new piece of art work.  Their new art work represents whatever peace means to them, as individuals or as a group.  

"Don't Box Me In" Shoeboxes

To explore issues of prejudice, stereotypes and identity, try this activity called "Don't Box Me In." Students use shoeboxes and cover the outside with stereotypes that people may falsely hold true about them and then cover the inside with words or images that represent who they really are.


To learn about immigration or multiculturalism, students can create quilts, which represent harmony because of all the different elements that work together to create a larger whole. 

Art Exchange

Any of the above projects can be used in Art Exchanges where students exchange their artwork with students from other parts of the globe, the country, or their community to learn about differences and discuss diverse perspectives.     


Theatre and drama are important tools for peace education. In particular, theatre can be used to explore themes of social justice, equality, and other issues that are relevant to the students’ lives. In this section we will explore one form of theatre that is based on the philosophy of Paulo Freire, called Theatre of the Oppressed.

Theatre of the Oppressed

As mentioned in the earlier section on Paulo Freire, Theatre of the Oppressed is a way of applying peace education principles of dialogue and critical thinking to the art of theatre. While theatre in itself is a form of informal education that can be used anywhere, from public parks to real theater venues, theatre is also a great way to engage students in the classroom. Of particular interest to educators might be the Theatre of the Oppressed workshops, designed by Augusto Boal.


There are as many forms of Theatre of the Oppressed as there are performers. Here is a list of some of the most common forms:


Simultaneous dramaturgy - when the actors stop the action and ask the audience for their opinions about how to resolve the situation, promoting dialogue between the actors and the audience.


Image theatre - actors are asked to mold or sculpt their bodies or the bodies of others to form an idea, emotion, or situation, then move into a group and reform images to form a bigger picture or image. This form emphasizes using the body, rather than speech, as the medium of expression.


Forum theatre - after the performers act out a situation, audience members are invited to come to the stage and take the role of one of the performers to try to resolve the situation.


Newspaper theatre - a series of techniques used to get the audience to transform news stories into a theatrical scene.


Invisible theatre - a previously rehearsed play performed in a public space where the public is not informed that it is a performance. 

Sample Lesson – Theatre


The following lesson is an example of using Theatre of the Oppressed in the classroom (Teaching Tolerance, n.d.).

Circle Sculpture

Level: Grades 6 to 8, Grades 9 to 12

Subject: Social Studies


An introduction to the Theatre of the Oppressed

*This lesson plan is to accompany the Teaching Tolerance magazine article "Flipping the Script on Bias and Bullies"


"It isn't easy theater," director Jeannie LaFrance said. "But it's awesome." She was talking about the Theatre of the Oppressed, a set of theatrical techniques that challenge our most basic assumptions about drama. By blurring the line between actor and audience, Theatre of the Oppressed can shake your students out of complacency and make them feel empowered to confront injustice in an effective, nonviolent manner. These techniques can attract students who wouldn't normally get involved in drama – and implementing them doesn't cost a lot of money.


It does take work. However, if you take the time to introduce these techniques and create a safe environment for self-expression, you will find that students make rapid progress.

The four-day plan, based on the "circle sculpture" technique, gives you a step-by-step look at how to introduce the Theatre of the Oppressed in your classroom.


Students will learn the techniques of "circle sculpture" and perform as "spect-actors" in a performance about a topic that is important to their community.


Time & Materials
Four class sessions (one to introduce the process and the others to teach each variation on the process)
Chalk and chalkboard (or marker and dry erase board)
Newsprint or posterboard and markers


A Note on Classroom Environment
The first step this multi-day lesson involves safety and trust building. Take special care while guiding the activities to ensure that each student feels valued and heard, and that all opinions, thoughts, and feelings are considered equal.


Remember, once trust has been established, the community's growth and learning can be both rapid and deep. At the conclusion of these activities, students can emerge with a shared experience that is powerful and transformational. Trust the process, your students and yourself.


Day 1

By deconstructing a quote from theater artist/educator Michael Rohd, and engaging in a warm-up activity, students will begin to explore the techniques of the Theatre of the Oppressed.

Quote Activity
1. Write the following quote on the board:
"Theatre allows us to converse with our souls, to passionately pursue and discover ways of living with ourselves and with others."
Michael Rohd, theatre artist & educator

2. Ask three or four different students to read the quote aloud.

3. Ask students to pair up and share with their partner an example of a play, movie, television program or other performance piece they believe is an example of what Michael Rohd is describing.

4. Brainstorm a list of emotions associated with their examples. Write the responses on the board.

Explain to your students that the series of activities you have planned for them over the next few days may bring up some emotions mentioned on the list. Let them know that you will do all you can to create a safe space for learning. Encourage them to take personal responsibility for doing their part to maintain that safe space.


Warm-ups and energizers are essential in preparing students for theater work. They create a safe space for self-expression and cause shift in the way students engage with a particular theme.

Warm-ups and energizers not only get the group started, they foster a safe and playful interaction among the participants. In addition, the group gets an opportunity to begin participating in structured activities in which they will be asked to use their bodies in a new way. This shifts them from their automatic responses and habits, and sets them up to engage a topic from a new perspective.


Cover the Space
This movement activity will help students shift from the traditional classroom format. With the exception of directions coming from you, this is a silent exercise.

Designate an open space. You may mark it off with physical boundaries like desks or chairs, or you may simply designate the space.

Tell students to start walking around the space. Direct them to try to cover every inch of the designated space. They should keep walking. No talking or physical contact are allowed. After a few minutes, ask students to be aware of their bodies. Though they can't talk, they should look at one another. Ask to them become aware of the floor, the space underneath their feet. After a few more minutes, let them know it is their job, as a group, to ensure that the entire space is covered at all times. Tell them when you call "freeze" they should stop. Once they have stopped, give them feedback on how well they are covering the space, then "unfreeze" and resume walking. Keep it going until you are satisfied that the group has become completely focused on the task of "covering the space."


Follow-up questions for the class
1. How do you feel about the energy and focus you brought to the exercise?

2. What helped to keep you focused? What happened when you were not focused?

3. How did it feel to do this in silence? Were there times when you wanted to speak?

4. Did the group "cover the space?"


Framing the Issue
Everyone sits in a circle and brainstorms about an issue you will be exploring with the group. For example, you can ask the group to share thoughts or concerns they have regarding the increase in anti-black hate incidents across the country in the month after Barack Obama's election.

You can either go around the circle or call on students to raise their hands. It's not a dialogue at this point. People briefly say what's on their mind and others listen.

After hearing the thoughts and concerns just shared, you ask the group for single words that come to mind around this issue. These can be themes or emotions (i.e., fear, anger, guns, crime, jealousy, race, harassment).

You write them down as they're called out. Aim for a list of 30-50 single words. When you've finished, read the list back to them. This list will serve as a blueprint for the rest of the activity, but it is also one that you'll likely return to again and again.


Students should return to pairs to share feelings raised by today's activities. After each partner has an opportunity to share, ask the pairs to select one feeling word that captures some of what both partners shared. They should write the word on an index card, without signing their names, and turn it in. (You will add the words to the list created earlier.)

Return to whole group and thank everyone for their participation. Let them know when the process will continue.


Day 2
Warm up/game

The Wind Blows

Start by having everyone sit in a circle of chairs. Pull one chair out of the circle so that one person does not have place to sit. You may want to ask who would like to volunteer to pull their chair out.

The object of the activity is to have one person stand in the center and share a statement with the group – a statement that is true for the student. For instance, if the student is nervous about a test, she or he can share that. The statement doesn't have to be true for everyone, just for the student in the center.

The statement must be shared in this format: "The wind blows if...(insert statement)". The person in the center can share anything they feel comfortable sharing. For example, "The wind blows if you are feeling happy today" or "the wind blows if you are the eldest in your family."

The "wind" has just blown, and the participants, like leaves, must find a new location if this statement is also true for them. This is the opportunity for the person standing in the center to take an open chair before another individual takes it. Whoever is left in the center, without a seat, is the one who will share next.

You can play the game for 10-15 minutes depending on your group. As they find a rhythm, you may remind them that they can share about experiences, likes and dislikes, family, etc.— whatever feels safe.


Follow-up questions
1. Were you surprised by the things people chose to share in the group?

2. If you were in the middle, how did you decide what to share?

3. Were you honest in your responses? Did you change seats each time the statement was true for you?

4. How do you feel about being a part of this group right now?

Reframing the issue
Ask students to recall the community issue they explored in the last class session. Read students a recent news report about that issue (for instance, if your class chose to talk about racial backlash incidents following the election of Barack Obama, you might select a story about one of those incidents.)

Ask each person to select a single word from the list they generated during the last class session – a word that characterizes what was shared from the news report.


Partner Sculpt
Everyone gets a partner. One partner will start as the sculptor, the other as clay.

Demonstrate to the group how to sculpt human clay. The sculptor can sculpt by touching the "clay" and moving his or her partner into place or by mirroring and showing them the position they should take. The sculptor cannot talk. The activity is silent.

You call out a word from the list and the sculptor uses the clay to create an image in response to the word, to make a piece of art. The goal is not to illustrate the word or to play charades. It is to shape, imagine, and create. The image can be realistic, abstract, concrete, or symbolic. There are no right or wrong images! It doesn't have to have a "meaning". It can come from a thought or a feeling.


After the sculptors have sculpted, they can walk around and look at others' images. There should be a gallery of responses to the word. When every sculptor has returned to their image you say "clay, relax" and the clay and sculptor trade places.

Go back and forth through a variety of words until you feel ready to move on.


1. How do you feel about your participation today?

2. Did you prefer being the clay or the sculptor?

3. Were you able to express what you wanted through this exercise? Why or why not?

Congratulate the students on their hard work. Encourage them to talk to others about what they experienced today. Remind them when the group meets again.


Day 3
Group Sculpt

Everyone gets into groups of four or five. Each group will pick someone to sculpt first.

You call out a word and they sculpt. This time they have more pieces of clay to work with. However, just because they have more bodies, doesn't mean that they have to sculpt a realistic story or scene. They can, but they can also sculpt abstract images. They have to sculpt quickly and silently.

During each round of words, you can relax all the images but one and allow everyone to see each other's work. You go around the room until each image has been featured and then move to the next word. You want to make sure each group member has a chance to sculpt at least once before moving on.


Day 4
Warm up/game

Shape & Number
Circle Sculpt
Everyone stands in a circle and three people get in the middle. You call out a word from the list and the three people create an image on their own. They are all clay and they simply find a position in relation to each other as you count to five. On "five," you call out "freeze" and they hold whatever position they are in.

Explain to the rest of the group that they are looking at one out of an infinite number of possible images for this word. They will now have a chance to re-sculpt that image as much as they like. Anyone can step into the circle and re-sculpt. One at a time, the group tries to share as many images as they can. They sculpt silently and pause a few seconds between images. This continues until you stop the round and go on to a new word.


Tips on Processing the Images

• If you want to talk about an image, ask what people see. Whatever responses they give are valuable. Make a point of not trying to have them answer in a certain context. Just ask what they see.

• Have people tell the story they see in the image. Push for as many different stories as you can get.

• As they walk around and look at images, remind them to see the images, not just glance at the


Arts for Peace: Peace Education Through Arts, Culture and Exposure. (n.d.). Retrieved from



Fountain, S. (1999). Peace Education in UNICEF. Manuscript in preparation. Retrieved from



Oragami Peace Tree Project (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.peacetree.info/main.php


Projects. (n.d.). International Art Partnership Peace Tree . Retrieved from



Radiant Peace Education Awards. (n.d.). Retrieved from The Radiant Peace Foundation

            International, Inc. website: http://www.radiantpeace.org/trpeaix.html


Teaching Tolerance (n.d.). Circle Sculpture. Retrieved    from http://www.tolerance.org/activity/circle-sculpture


Towards a Culture of Peace. (n.d.). Looking at Peace Education. Retrieved from



War Toys to Peace Art. (n.d.). Retrieved from      http://www.wartoystopeaceart.com/workshop.html   


Winfield, M. Collective Poetry. Teaching Tolerance. Retrieved from             http://www.tolerance.org/activity/collective-poetry


Additional Resources

Playing for Change: Peace Through Music


This project started as a documentary film to show the universal language of music as it transcends cultural and national borders. The filmmakers traveled the world getting footage of street musicians in various countries performing the same songs, and layered the musicians over one another, creating a global concert. The documentary is a great resource for showing the power of music for peace. The organization's non-profit branch (www.playingforchange.org) promotes music education and has started music schools in underserved areas around the world. 


Comments (0)

You don't have permission to comment on this page.