The Ceeds of Peace Toolkit offers more than 150 activities, techniques, and learning experiences.
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A Better World

Launch your school year with this activity! Youth work to identify community problems and respond to community needs. They are guided through exercises in imagining a stronger community and what it would take to get there. They are asked to take a look at their class, school, neighborhood, state, nation, and/or the world. This activity can serve as a launchpad for a service learning project that will directly benefit their community.

Action Research

Ask youth to conduct research on various conflicts by visiting peace education websites or multiple media sources. After researching the dimensions and various perspectives of the conflict, in groups or as a class, brainstorm solutions and figure out the resources needed to get involved in positive and safe ways. Alternatively, youth can find problems that need solving in their classrooms, schools, and communities and research potential solutions by interviewing school and community experts before getting involved.

Active Learning

Vary instructional strategies to develop the whole brain. Provide youth multiple sources of input including books, videos, lectures, discussions, visuals, stories and songs. Allow youth multiple avenues of output and ways to present knowledge, including essays, presentations, plays, dances, and songs. Change instructional strategies frequently.

Active Listening

Active listening builds trust and ensures that the other person in a conversation knows they are being heard. Demonstrate active listening by nodding, showing eye contact, repeating what the speaker said, asking clarifying questions and taking notes when appropriate. After pairing up in discussion, have youth actively listen to one another’s opinions and ideas and then represent each other in whole-class or whole-family discussions.

Acts of Kindness

Encourage individuals to perform a kind and selfless act for another person, be it someone known or unknown, with the only purpose being to brighten or improve the recipient’s day in some way. Kind acts can be spontaneous or planned, but they should not be expectant of any return to the giver. (See also: Kindness Tree)

All About Activitists

Youth brainstorm a list of activists, leaders, philosophers, philanthropists, and others who have made a difference in their communities and or the world. They identify the accomplishments, list favorite quotes, and create images and videos they feel represent each individual in a wall or digital display. Youth discuss how things would be different if the individuals in the display had not chosen to act. They then determine how they can personally take action to make a difference in their community.

Ants on a Log

A fun and physical activity from that encourages teamwork and collaboration. You will need an even amount of youth to participate, ideally close to 10. Find a straight line on the ground (or make one with tape) and have all youth stand on the line. Number each youth in standing order from 1-10. The object of the game is to get each person to switch positions without stepping off the line. So, person 1 will switch with person 10, 2 with 9, 3 with 8, 4 with 7, and 5 with 6. This requires strategy and critical thinking to determine the best method to get everyone successfully switched while staying on the line!

Alternate Grades

Consider assigning grades based on absolute standards and not on a youth’s achievement as defined by the teacher or compared to other youth. Students and educators critically examine grading systems and identify the reasons for and value of grading. Students brainstorm ways to assess their work and think about how to make grading consistent, fair, meaningful, noncompetitive, and supportive of learning.

Autobiographical Story

To create an autobiographical story, start with the problem, tension, conflict or personal realization that will serve as the heart of the story. Then work backwards by describing the setting (place & time) and characters. Develop the story forward by describing significant life events leading up to the climax. Then resolve the problem, tension or conflict. Finish the story by wrapping up loose ends. Youth can also do language autobiographies where they explore through storytelling their relationships with language (their first words, successes or failures with language, code-switching and multilingualism, intimate, social, professional and avocational languages in their families, etc.) as a means of understanding identity and classroom diversity.

Be Positive, Not Negative

An activity for “peace within and between” that focuses on negative self-talk, negative thoughts and statements about others, and complaining. A good idea is to have youth commit to this activity for at least one full day, and even longer if possible. All that is needed is a large quantity of paper clips. Explain to youth that each time they have a negative thought (about themselves, about someone else) and each time they say out loud negative statements and/or they complain, they must collect a paper clip for each thought or statement. Throughout the day, youth will need to be conscious of their thoughts and words and gather paper clips when necessary, stringing them together during the day. This can be continued at home with caregivers, as we are often harshest with our loved ones. The hope is that by drawing attention to our negativity, we can consciously shift to positive thoughts and statements.

Being Responsible Online

Being Responsible Online Most teens use electronic devices and social media, and it is critical that we teach them how to behave appropriately and safely online. Have discussions about how the internet has improved our lives, but that there are also conditions to its use. Remind teens that their online “footprint” lives on in the virtual world and that almost nothing can be completely erased. More serious discussions could involve how real people have lost their jobs, careers, and identities from inappropriate online behaviors. Also, tell teens that many employers look at online profiles and activity when making hiring decisions.

Bigger Than or Less Than

Using bigger than, less than, or equal signs, role-play different scenarios the youth face on a day to day basis to evaluate whether or not a situation feels “equal.” If the situation doesn’t feel equal have them use the bigger than or less than sign to determine who holds the power. Have a discussion about how to make the situation more equal. A scenario might include a child feeling left out on the playground, someone making all the rules and not allowing input from others, or one child pushing another child. A follow-up conversation could include “what do you do if you see this happening?” to encourage bystanders to be peacebuilders.

Brain Breaks

The brain alternates between various cycles (high and low) and hemispheres (left and right) throughout the day. To boost energy, enhance wellness, or get youth unstuck, provide brain breaks such as: physical activity, stretching, creative body movements, team-building exercises, sports, games, and free time. Brain breaks have the ability to reduce errors and stimulate learning; multiple breaks are encouraged.

Bucket Filling

An idea born in 2006 that works very well with young children, in which a bucket represents your mental and emotional self. When your bucket is full, you feel confident, secure, calm, patient and kind. When your bucket is empty, you feel sad, negative, insecure, nervous, and even angry. Having an empty bucket can cause you to express your emotions in ways that empty the buckets of other people around you. Buckets are filled with kind words and actions. People of all ages have buckets at all times, and buckets need to be continually filled to nurture kindness all around us. There are books and teaching materials available at

Bucket Toss

Create laminated pictures or drawings of various needs and wants, or have the items on hand. Have youth toss the items in a “want” bucket and a “need” bucket. Once the items are in the buckets, have them gather the wants and needs separately into two categories, writing them out or drawing them. Next, have them think about the value of the “less is more” philosophy in our interconnected world, as well as the universal needs of all humans. (See also: My Community)

Buddy Bench

A simple idea to eliminate loneliness and isolation and foster friendship and inclusion on the playground or in any public space. They work best when the bench is clearly identified as such, to stand out from other simple benches. It becomes a safe space for a young person to sit when they may need help, a friend to talk to, or any other social-emotional needs met. It is important that the youth that will use the bench are educated beforehand about its purpose. Many examples of benches and success stories with them are found on line.

Canoe Travel

Identify a problem-solving journey (personal, local, national or global) that you would like to undertake. Imagine you are in a problem-solving canoe, heading toward successful resolution or transformation of your problem/conflict. Evaluate who should be in your canoe and why, and what tools you will need for a successful journey.

Cast the Net

Ensure broad participation and diversity of representation in developing classroom, family, or community action plans. Have youth think about casting the largest possible net to gather supporters, stakeholders, resources, and collaborators for their projects. Draw a net and share with others who and what is in their net and why.


It is really important to celebrate both small and large successes, honor the people involved, maintain momentum, and continue to inspire improvement. Remember to build celebrations into your budget and calendar, and make them fun and engaging.

Character Lenses

While doing creative writing, have youth investigate the people involved in their storyboards. What types of people were involved? What do you think they were thinking and feeling? Encourage the identification of at least three divergent perspectives and interests. Young people can do the same with poetry, prose, or film. What are additional perspectives that the author or director did not present? What are some character lenses that might be useful to include? (See also: Story Board)

Community Care

Establish age appropriate shared jobs that rotate throughout the year and that will help build the classroom or home environment. Create a classroom or family chore chart that presents the chores as caring and leadership rather than a burden. Chores can contribute to self-sufficiency as well as community and harmony in the home or classroom. Each month, find community service projects and vote together on which ones to contribute to as a class or family.

Conflict Resolution Drama

Research shows that practicing pro-social behaviors is essential to internalizing these dispositions. Have youth form small groups of two to four. Hand out a sample age-typical conflict. Tell them they must create two skits. One skit will demonstrate how not to solve a conflict through the incorporation of “poison words” (that utilize anger and blame). The other skit will demonstrate how to best solve a conflict through the use of conflict resolution tools such as: “I” Statements, Active Listening, and Reframing. These conflicts can be dramatized versions of history in a social studies class or be used with math and economics to understand labor history, allocation of resources, or class conflicts


After exploring some of the many facets of representative democracy, including voting, representation, free speech, assembly etc., youth identify ways to: a) participate and connect with other voices and citizens in their community (however community is defined); b) challenge our democracy to grow in terms of equality, fairness, and social justice; and c) serve others in their community in order to make it healthier and stronger.

Consensus Building

Help everyone in a group to get to a decision that they can be satisfied with by brainstorming and writing out a list of outcomes as well as responses to each outcome. Is there an outcome that most or all are pleased with? If not everyone is pleased with any one outcome, is there an outcome that at least does not elicit a strongly negative response from anyone in the group?

Connections Map

Draw a connections map that identifies relationships people have with each other. From that map, identify key decision-makers and people that might be missing or under-represented. In an effort to more completely and deeply understand history, current events, or literature, bring the perspectives of people who have been invisible or in the margins into the center of your map.


These are promises people make to each other about how to act toward one another in the future. They create shared accountability to outcomes. Find contract templates online or craft them together as a family or class with categories/sections that highlight the needs and wants of the community, the commitments made to one another, and the consequences for violating the contract. Use the contract to remind one another of the shared commitments of the family/community whenever there is a conflict. For younger children, create contracts using pictures.

Count to Ten

Have children sit or stand in a circle. The group counts from one to ten. Anyone can say a number, but if two people say a number at the same time, everyone has to start again from the beginning. This can be difficult, but it is worth persisting. It builds concentration, togetherness and awareness of each other. It is also a good game for quieting and calming the group. It sometimes helps if the group stands in a tight circle, shoulder to shoulder, and if the children close their eyes. (Thich, Nhat Hanh, Planting Seeds, 2011)

Create Shared Values

Create a list or pictures to chart individuals’ values, rules or expectations. Wherever there is common value or expectation, you’ll find the foundation for a description of shared values, rules or expectations that will guide the groups’ behavior and interactions with one another moving forward.

Creative Expression of Empathy

Use art, media, song, and dance to create more impactful messaging and learning. Have youth present and understand peer relationships, social studies, literature, and current events by exploring the arts of a particular time or place. Have them write poetry, prose, letters, or journal entries from the perspective of others far away in time or space. Have them paint, draw, sing, or sculpt the reality of the unseen individuals who are being impacted by particular news events.

Definition of Peace

This can be a very valuable and eye-opening exercise that can be done with all ages, child to adult. There are many definitions of peace in the world, some academic, others emotional, and many in between. The purpose of asking people their definition is to get them to reflect on the concept and what it means to them, and how they can infuse peace into their life and the lives of others. It also serves the purpose to show others that peace is more than just a symbol or a song, but a conscious endeavor that takes effort and commitment throughout one’s lifetime.

Deflating Anger

Teach youth that anger can be a healthy emotion, and that it informs us about the importance of an issue. Teach them to remain calm when dealing with anger by breathing deeply and using attentive body language. Teach them how to help an angry person discover the cause of their anger by restating. Use “I” statements to express feelings in a way that thoughtfully channels anger into productive action. The goal is to identify what makes them angry, what they wish could happen instead, what they have learned from the anger, and how they are going to take that learning and make good use of it.

Design Thinking

Map out the larger system within which a conflict or an issue resides. Discover how the system might be reinforcing the conflict or issue. Identify breaks in the system, rules and regulations reinforcing the conflict, etc. Map solutions for shifting the system. Network mapping (analysis of how a network is connected) is a powerful tool in this activity.

Don’t to Do

Instead of “Don’t hit,” teach “Touch nicely” and demonstrate. After teaching, remind by asking, “How do you touch nicely?” Instead of “Don’t touch the lamp,” say, “You can touch and play with the pans.” Instead of “Don’t run,” say “Please use your walking feet.” Instead of “Don’t speak that way,” say, “Please speak respectfully, like this…,” and demonstrate.

Double Listening

 Includes active listening plus listening for the counter story. A counter story is one that will introduce possibilities of resolution or that will help you to identify underlying needs. Involves listening beyond facts and more deeply for values important to the speaker.

Doubting, Believing & Sharing

Pick a difficult topic around which there is conflict and get everybody “believing” they are right about one side of the problem. Then get everyone together “doubting” that same problem. The process of believing involves absorbing, defending, and adopting the arguments. Then get everyone together “doubting” that same problem, deconstructing and critiquing it. Finally comes the “sharing,” when an individual finds the points of intersection between the doubters and believers or articulates their own position, drawing from the perspectives of both the doubters and believers.

Drama and Dance

Use drama and dance to build community, foster active learning, and support youth growth. Use both to aid classroom management, address multiple intelligences, and to develop abstract, creative and critical thinking skills. Assign various roles to youth in the “Theater Company” including: Playwright, Director, Choreographer, and Actors and Actresses. Use dramatic play with young children to work with conflicts by using stuffed animals and other character toys to practice calming oneself, using language to solve problems, and showing empathy.

Encourage and Encourage Some More

Find as many opportunities to acknowledge how hard our youth are working. It takes five words of encouragement for every one word of criticism for our youth to internalize the encouragement. “Thank you for helping,” “You’ve worked so hard,” “I appreciate that you helped your friend,” “Thanks for cleaning up” are examples.

Engaging Nature

Getting people outside can do wonders for building capacities for problem solving. Through engaging nature, youth become calm, learn to listen carefully, develop their empathic response, become more respectful and more careful about their own actions, and take on leadership positions to protect nature. They feel peace and learn about the practical steps of civic engagement through projects in environmental stewardship, the water cycle, disaster response and resilience, climate monitoring and more.


This is mathematics that is multicultural and culturally responsive. It is used to understand inequality and poverty and arouse a sense of action and indignation about injustice. It is also used to understand indigenous and historical knowledge systems as well as to serve the goals of equality, peace and social justice. Decorate the classroom with posters and other materials detailing the work of women who have contributed to the development of mathematics (investigate ‘Carolina’ mathematics posters). As examples, find data on neighborhood houselessness and compare it to the number in other neighborhoods, or create a chart to compare per capita earnings around the world.

Exercise in Empathy     

Get youth to adopt the perspective of those in history who are either poorly represented or not represented in history books. After researching historical lives, youth can create poems, journals, speeches, plays, or newspaper articles using these voices of the past in order to build understanding and emotional connection through history. Youth can also write letters from these people to contemporary individuals and address contemporary issues of importance. They work to build bridges between past and present, understand cause and effect, and deepen their knowledge about contemporary issues.

Expository Writing Structures

Although narrative structures are more easily remembered and come more naturally to youth, ask them to try these expository writing structures: Compare & Contrast (discuss the similarities and differences between people, places, items, or events, without bias); Problem & Solution (define a clear problem with multiple solutions and choose the best solution and explain why), and Cause & Effect (show how one or multiple events leads to another).

Facing History and Ourselves  

An international educational and professional development organization whose mission is to engage youth of diverse backgrounds in an examination of racism, prejudice, and anti-Semitism in order to promote the development of a more humane and informed citizenry. (

Family Cultural Sharing

Identify cultural treasures from the families in your classroom. Have families come in and share their cultural traditions. Highlight ways of celebrating community through dance, art, music, and food. Crosswalk the experiences to highlight the sharing of humanity’s various cultures. Additionally, youth can find hybrid cultural forms of expression and food that highlight cultural collision, braiding, and sharing at home or in the surrounding communities.

Family Meetings

Plan meetings as a whole family (try for weekly) where members discuss the upcoming week. Identify where family members might need some help. Family Meetings are a safe space to talk about challenges each family member may be facing. Rotate who facilitates each week, using talking sticks or balls as a way of sharing equally. Children can facilitate too. Establishing shared values for the conversations is also critical.


The use of feedback can reduce stress and confusion. Immediate feedback should be specific and focus on ways that youth can improve. Try to avoid an overall evaluation and focus on both what went well and what needs improvement. Also include supportive peer feedback. Feedback should be delivered with calm and supportive language, avoiding judgment and blame, to elicit greater learning.

Field Trips

Create field trips that reinforce the Ceeds of Peace that you are planting. Service learning excursions are an example. Youth can work to better understand the needs of their communities and harness the will to act on behalf of others. They can learn subject matter in a way that feels more connected and therefore more meaningful and memorable. (See also: Huaka‘i)

Fight or Flight

When people are upset, they access the fight/flight part of their brain. Do not try to solve problems if you or the youth are angry and upset. Create a cooling-off period and secure a time and place to work through the issue when the adult and the youth have clearer heads.

Find the Light in Others

Make it a practice to look for the “light” in others; see their kindness, compassion, strengths, and talents. Sit in a circle of 4-6 people, each person having a blank sheet of paper and pen. Each person writes their name on their paper, then passes it to their neighbor. Each person in the circle writes a positive trait about the person named on the paper, and the passing continues to each person in the circle. At completion, each person in the circle should have their own sheet returned to them, with a list of their positive traits. Group reflection can follow. For young children, this can be done orally.

Fist of 5

A way of measuring how everyone is feeling about a process. A useful tool to use as a check-in throughout a process. People show fingers to display their “feeling number,” 5 being fully satisfied/supported, 0 being not happy/not supported at all. Address what could be changed or improved if participants show 0-3s, and evaluate the reasons for success when 5s are shown.

From the Source Storytelling     

Bring in guest speakers who have experienced violence, injustice, racism, or hatred of some kind. Allow youth to hear the story from the source. Teachers and/or the children/students can facilitate the conversation, ensuring age appropriate content.

Future Visioning: Paint and Post the Future

Future Collectively draw, paint, or write out the family, school or community that you most desire. Who is there? What is there? How do people problem solve? How do people share resources? How do people work with one another? How do people live? Post in a public space to remind everyone of the vision you are working towards.

Gender Critique

Critically reflect on the role gender played in a particular situation. Gender critiques should be visited when reading history, current literature, looking at current events, etc. Were both genders engaged, invited and empowered? If not, why? Why is this important?

Gender-Neutral Language    

 Make efforts to use language and references that are not limited to only one gender, for example, “How are you guys doing today?” or “Firemen are so brave.” Strive to use language that is more inclusive and respectful of the many roles that both genders play, while also lessening the continuation of stereotypes. 

Gratitude Journal  

Keep a journal with writings and/or artwork to record and express what you are most thankful for in your life. There are many small things that are easy to take for granted. This is a good way to recognize and therefore appreciate what we have, so that we may share our talents with others. Suggestion is to make sure that names and characteristics of people who are important to you also get entered. A challenge is to make an entry in this journal at least weekly, and make sure the focus stays on gratitude. For young children, a gratitude journal can be in the form of pictures.

Group Conflict Challenge   

Research and examine the different contemporary and indigenous systems for resolving conflicts. Form teams of problem-solvers representing the various systems. Each team is given a group challenge with a conflict at the center, and they endeavor to resolve the conflicts in culturally responsive ways. (See also: Ho‘oponopono)

Habits of Mind

Habits of Mind was developed to create a more thoughtful, cooperative, compassionate generation of people who skillfully work to resolve social, environmental, economic and political problems. The Habits of Mind are dispositions that empower creative and critical thinking. Habits of Mind International has outreach around the world. (learn more at

History Jigsaw

Each child/student explores the same time or event in history from the perspective of a different person or group. Individuals then come together and share their perspectives in order to have a whole and multidimensional portrait of the historical period or event.


Learn about Ho‘oponopono, the Hawaiian system for ‘setting it right,’ and restoring individual and community harmony and balance. It promotes acts of healing interpersonal conflicts and is relationship-centered and not agreement-centered. It often involves forgiveness. During Ho‘omalu, practitioners sit in solitude and gather strength prior to speaking one’s true feelings. With all family members working together, the goal of Ho‘oponopono is making peace and building a strong community.

How does it feel?   

After analyzing the information, what is your reaction? Were the systems fair? Why or why not? Identify one or two youth to do video interviews with fellow children/students to learn their reactions. Compile them into one video piece. For young children, this can be facilitated by parents, caregivers or teachers when a child feels excluded, when conflicts arise, etc., to build empathy.


Design a huaka‘i or fieldtrip for youth to help them better understand the history, culture, and land systems (ahupua‘a) of Hawai‘i. Your huaka‘i might focus on indigenous culture (i.e.: lo‘i, fishpond) or local culture (i.e.: plantation village, sugar mill). Think about (1) Arrangements – researching, making the reservations, cost, what to bring; (2) Logistics – maps, directions, time; and (3) Educational component –research, creating a study guide, activity during fieldtrip, etc. (See also: Field Trips)


When appropriate, hugs help us feel better. When a child is having a tantrum, try asking for a hug or saying, “When you are ready, I’d be happy to give you hug.” Rarely does anything more need to be said and everyone can move on.

I statements

Used to confront a behavior without attacking a person. They are also used to state a point of view without requiring the other person to agree with the point of view. To use an “I” Statement, start a sentence with “I” and describe how you feel, without including what the other person did.

Identify Needs & Interests

More likely than not, when people are angry or upset, they are expressing their “position” or a hardline stance on something. It’s important to teach youth how to identify underlying needs and interests by asking open-ended questions to learn more. “Tell me more…,” “What would you like to see happen?,” “What do you need?” etc. Give youth frequent opportunities to empathize and imagine needs and interests in history as well as in current events in the community and surrounding world.

Identity Activities

Provide opportunities through art, music or writing for youth to express their own identities, history, affiliations, values, intentions, and needs, etc. Explore different facets of ascribed or acquired identity: ethnicity, race, gender, religion, language, geography, sexual orientation, vocation, avocation, and so on. Find intersections and commonalities between various identities and find hybrid identities that entwine features of identity due to exchange, migration, or colonization. Evaluate reasons and map pathways by which features of identity traveled from one nation, region, or culture to another.

If/Then Game   

A basic tool to think through consequences, “If this happens, then what do you think will happen next?” or “If we decided to do this, then what do you think might happen as a result?” Brainstorm a variety of outcomes and consider the gains and losses, bounty and sacrifice, of each outcome. Get youth to consider a variety of pathways and build a roadmap to predict outcomes and consequences.

In Their Shoes

 To help youth better understand those who are disabled, it could be helpful to have them explore what it’s like to be “in their shoes”. For example, wearing earplugs to experience reduced hearing; learning about braille to experience reading without sight; having youth create art with only their mouths or feet. The idea is to encourage empathy and understanding of our unique differences.

Individual Work & Group Pairings

Youth need to feel comfortable sharing their ideas and feelings, so allowing space for individual work, one-to-one work and group work is critical for self-reflection, expression and collaboration.

Intrinsically Rewarding Tasks   

These are more powerful motivators as they make use of the brain’s natural opiates. Intrinsically motivating tasks are personally relevant and challenging. Minimize the emphasis on competitive grades and punitive measures by having youth think about what tasks and projects make them feel a sense of pride and care in both the process and outcome. Help them to feel confident about the skills they have and the many things they can do as leaders in their classroom, family, or community.

Kind AND Firm

It is the "AND: that brings Kind AND Firm together to avoid extremes. Begin by validating feelings and/or choices when possible. Examples, “I know you don’t want to brush your teeth, AND we can do it together.” “You want to keep playing, AND it is time for bed. Do you want one story or two?” “I love you, AND the answer is no.” (

Kindness Tree

  Role-play one act of kindness each week with words or actions. When acts of kindness are noticed or a classmate shares an act of kindness they received from another child/student (this can be done in circle time), they get to color a decoration and hang it as an ornament on a tree. Youth can watch the kindness grow over the year, and also learn responsibility by taking care of the tree. (See also: Acts of Kindness)


It is important to talk with youth about labels and the stereotypes that go along with them. Do peers call your child a “jock” or a “geek”? Does your child use these terms (or others) to describe their peers? Discuss how labels can be limiting, unfounded, and also cruel. Explain that labels do not define a person, that they can cause sadness, and should be avoided. Also, be aware of your own language and the use of labels. Using labels to describe or name youth can be quite harmful when they are trying to build their own identities.

Land Management Systems

Mauka (mountain) to makai (ocean) management. In teams, draw an ahupua‘a (Hawaiian term for a large traditional socio-economic/geologic/climatic subdivision of land that was cooperatively managed). Then share different interpretations of land division. Discuss how responsibilities are shared. Have youth evaluate how this structure compares to their classroom or neighborhood or community responsibilities. Combine with a field trip to understand responsibilities to one another having to do with land and sharing, or scarcity of resources and climate change. (See also: Huaka‘i)


Have youth find at least two photographs from a movement—past or present—against what are perceived as unjust laws. The goal is to find photographs that express both sympathetic and unsympathetic opinions about the protest. They write captions for the photos, explaining what it is about the photograph that makes them think it either supports or opposes a particular view.

Listen for Core Team

While in the discovery phase of problem-solving, listen for who might be effective in serving on a core team of planners. Listen for interest, skills and other referenced leaders in the community. Get youth to sit quietly and ‘listen’ with you when exploring solutions to problems in the community. Who do they hear? Who needs assistance? What voices merit more careful listening? What are the solutions and who are the core people who might help in reaching them? Youth can come up with core teams and take action.

Literature Circle

Use a literature circle to discuss major elements of a story that is developmentally appropriate to the audience. Include its characters and events. Are the characters realistic or are they symbolic? What motivates the characters to make the choices they do? How does the social, political, or economic context influence the work? Is there a recurring image, phrase, or event that requires analysis? Assign various roles to the youth in a Literature Circle such as: Questioner or Facilitator.

Logical Consequences

Use discipline to develop character and not to punish. Discipline means “to teach” and should not be punitive but should help a child to grow as a person. Use consequences rarely, and instead focus on solutions. When appropriate, follow the “Four Rs” of Logical Consequences: 1) Related, 2) Respectful, 3) Reasonable, and 4) Revealed, in advance when possible. (

Marketplace of Human Rights

Youth are buyers and sellers in a marketplace activity where human rights are the only commodity. In buying particular human rights and in designating the value of each category of human rights, the aim is to get them to reflect on the importance of each human right before promoting or selling it.

Media Comparisons

Take on a particular current or historical event. Find disparate sources of reporting and media on the event to compare. Who wrote the articles? Ask why they are presenting very different perspectives on a particular issue. What is the tone of each article and how does that make a difference in how we feel about the issue?


Provide spaces for youth to practice the skills of mediation between them as well as facilitation of group discussions and problem solving. Hone their skills in active listening, open-ended questions, leading with solutions, etc.

Mindful Breathing  

Teach children how to belly breathe by having them lie down and putting their hands on their bellies. See how far they can breathe in and how slowly they can breathe out. When children find themselves angry, remind them of putting their hands on their bellies to breathe through the anger. Encourage them to sit or lie down if needed in a peaceful area of your home or classroom.

Mistakes and Learning

Establish a culture in your classroom or home where mistakes are welcomed and used as learning opportunities. Normalize mistakes by discussing them at dinner or in circle time. Have everyone share a mistake they have made and what they learned from the mistake.

Mix, Pair, Share

Have the children/students mix, then teacher calls “pair.” Hands go up and youth pair up. Teacher then asks questions and gives thinking time. Pairs then share. Deepen careful listening skills by having each person share the cares, interests, thoughts and ideas of the others with the community. Individuals in each pair and team take responsibility for listening, interpreting, and representing one another. (


Rather than just telling children and youth how they should act, show them. Show them in your own daily actions and words with them. Intentionally model through practicing with them their tones, use of language (verbal and body) and responses to conflict. Very critical as young people look to adults as guides for their behaviors.

Modeling Self-Awareness

At mealtimes, during commutes, or whenever there is time to talk with a teen, let them know how you are feeling and why. For example, you might say, “I’m getting a bit anxious about the holidays coming up. I am happy to spend time with family but also nervous about taking time away from my new job.” By creating an opportunity to discuss your feelings, you are letting the teen see your emotions in a healthy way. This provides a safe place for the teen to talk with you about what they’re feeling, too. (


  Give youth a small amount of money to manage. Teach them about investing, saving, the value of conservation, wise spending, and encourage them to give to charity. Use these activities to teach them about how the economy works and the importance of securing a vibrant economy. Also teach them how money issues create inequalities for people of different gender, ethnicity, and geographic location, in order to improve civic engagement and community involvement.


The Hawaiian word for story or tradition; use classical Hawaiian stories to teach literacy, science, and culture. In so doing, youth build their own stories with the stories of the community, culture, and past. This enables a better understanding of the lessons of the past that help guide our actions in the future. Have youth interview others and build oral histories of their own communities.

Movement Healing

Use movement as a way to increase blood flow for effective thinking and problem solving. Build in yoga, dance, stretching, and physical exercise on a daily basis together.

My Community

Using the wants and needs table, have youth each draw their own classroom, school and/or family. How would they meet their needs? They will most likely draw hospitals, gardens, homes for shelter, friends etc. Select one drawing to duplicate on the board then discuss as a class how you would acquire those needs. See what they say and then introduce bartering, paying in currency, etc. Ask them which elements they desire most and why. Discuss the responsibilities we have for taking care of each other and ourselves, and the common needs we all share. (See also: Bucket Toss)

My Kuleana (Responsibility)

When discussing a current or historical event, have youth draw, write about, paint or publicly express what their kuleana (responsibility) would have been or is to that particular situation.

National Geographic’s Community Geography    

Since its founding in 1888, National Geographic’s mission has been to increase and diffuse geographic knowledge. Today, National Geographic is developing powerful, new “community geography” platforms to help people learn about and improve their world. These include the use of interactive mapping tools to engage the public in understanding, monitoring, and nurturing the places they care about. (

Non-Violent Language    

NVC requires people identify shared needs, revealed by the thoughts and feelings that surround these needs, and collaborate to develop strategies that meet them. Do this by observing a situation without judgement, identifying your feelings about the situation, and requesting actions you would like done to meet your needs. Also, make efforts to use language and references that do not have connections (direct and indirect) to violent themes. For example, referring to “bullet points” on documents, “Break a leg” for good luck, “Let me take a stab/shot at it", etc. There are many substitutes and more descriptive and neutral language to use in our everyday lives

Next Time Commitments

After going through a resolution process, have youth make commitments to one another and to their community about how they will do things differently next time. Document the commitment somewhere safe. If possible, have them set a time frame for meeting the commitment/obligation.

Numbered Heads Together  

Youth learn collaboration and leadership skills in this activity that asks them to number off in teams so each teammate has a different number. The teacher asks a question and provides thinking time. Youth put their minds together to discuss the question. The teacher then calls a number. The child/student with that number takes a leadership role and shares with the class what his or her team discussed. (

Once and Future Rulers    

Examine what leadership made certain leaders effective. In addition to warfare and weaponry, did leaders use diplomatic or nonviolent tools for effective leadership? How might the leaders of the past rule differently in today’s world? What are the leadership qualities that are most likely to be needed into the future?

Open-Ended Questions

Teach youth how to ask effective open-ended questions to learn more. These are typically: How, When, Who, What, and Why questions. Share the limitations to yes and no questions.

Peace Relevant Literature

Multiple peace education and character education books exist (go to for many book titles). Use throughout all lessons and have readily available in the classroom/home. Look to our resource lists in order to build your own peace education resource library or find literature on topics such as compassion (“Wonder”), courage (“Say Something”), conservation (“The Lorax”), or community (“999 Tadpoles”) to use during circle times and free reading times, in order to reinforce the other efforts you are making. Click on through to learn what you can do with them!

Peace Flower

A strategy for youth to problem-solve themselves. Between two children, they pass a flower back and forth. The first child begins by saying, “I felt ________when this happened.” The child then passes the flower and the other child repeats back what they heard. “It sounds like you felt ________when I did _________.” Then an apology ensues or the conversation continues briefly to clear up miscommunications. Then one child enters the resolution process by saying, “Next time, let’s ____________” and ideally the other child says, “Great idea!” They both hold the flower and say “sorry” or “peace be with you”, etc…Keep the peace flower in a prominent location (see Peace Table)

Peace Table

Providing a space for problem solving is important. A peace table designates expectations for how youth will engage with each other. Peacebuilding literature, small peace gardens, talking sticks, peace flowers, and other problem-solving tools are kept in this prominent area. Have youth design and decorate their table or space and plan activities or send invitations to others to use the space for peaceful resolution, serenity and problem solving.

Peeling the Onion   

Pull apart the layers of a problem in your classroom, school or community. Look at the history of the problem, the needs and interests of everyone involved, tipping points, and potential collaborations. Peeling the onion is about making the problems small and manageable after you’ve pulled away the layers to get to the essence of the problem. In the outline of the onion, name all the layers of the problem and then put small solutions or improvements around the outline to help youth understand that even problems that feel big can be handled productively.

Peer Mediation

Train youth to be peer mediators. Use video to demonstrate what mediation looks like (i.e.: community heroes who help others and provide basic mediation skills). Peer Mediation Teams should be comprised of 3-5 youth, and team members should rotate each month. Each member wears a peace sign to remind classmates whom they can turn to when they need help.

Peer Messaging

Youth and adults tend to “take sides” when conflicts erupt. It is important that when resolution is achieved, those involved in the conflict ensure that their peers know about the resolution and are committed to not continuing the conflict themselves. It is about building capacity for all to commit to supporting one another in the community.

Philosophy for Children (P4C)     

Youth craft questions around passages about current civic controversies that have long histories, such as de facto segregation or immigrant rights. They vote on the questions they want to pursue and use a community ball to facilitate discussion. Youth learn to ask a variety of open-ended questions to foster critical thinking. Questions might include, “Is it fair to give some individuals or groups a head start/leg up?” or “Is it our responsibility to listen to people in our community with whom we disagree politically?” Youth will become comfortable evaluating civil society and voicing their opinions in such a way that is beneficial to all members (

Physical Activity

Reduces stress, lowers the cortisol levels that destroy brain cells and enhances neuron growth and neuronal connections. Physical activity provides the brain with oxygen and glucose and releases endorphins and adrenaline, which provide a mood-lift and prepare the brain for challenging tasks. Explore mind-body connections for optimal wellness and use “Brain Gym” techniques to enhance academic performance.

Pohaku Bowl

 Have a public bowl where everyone has his or her own (identified) stone. There should also be a few unidentified stones. All stones are set next to the bowl. If someone has an issue they need to discuss, they put their stone in the bowl. Teachers, parents, and youth then know that there is an issue to discuss, and individual follow-up can take place. Or, the issue can be discussed at the next group meeting either anonymously or publicly

Positive Interdependence   

A small group activity to create a picture or diagram that shows how youth are linked in a way that they cannot succeed without the participation of all. Positive Interdependence can be understood by getting them to talk about mutual goals, joint rewards, shared materials, and assigned roles. All individuals must work together as a hui.

Power of the Bystander

The bystander is one of the most critical, if not the most critical person in a conflict. Teaching youth how to successfully and confidently intervene when appropriate is very important. If intervening is not a good idea, they need to know how to go get help. Role playing, watching videos, and brainstorming together what might work are suggestions. Online resources about being an “Upstander” are available for exploration as are the Facing History resources on “Choosing to Participate.” (see also: Upstander)

Process Writing

Break up a writing task into the following components: Pre-Write; First Draft; Mini Lesson; Peer Share; Revise; Edit; Publish. To Pre-Write, youth research, brainstorm, and outline their ideas. Then they write their First Draft. The teacher then delivers a Mini Lesson based on common grammatical or other writing errors. Youth then read each other’s work during a Peer Share. They then Revise, Edit, and finally Publish! (See also: Revision Toolbox)


Puzzles are a good way to encourage critical thinking with all ages of youth. In order to successfully complete a puzzle, they must work with both individual, disconnected parts, and a picture of the whole. Puzzles also require collaboration if done with a partner. They teach patience and persistence. In addition, puzzles are a great way to spend quality time with family and young ones.


In more diverse classrooms or other groups, youth can share their cultural heritage in a presentation including music, food, literature, language, art and other cultural traditions. Those youth listening should be asked to identify: a) something they recognize or find familiar, b) something that surprised them or something new that they learned, and c) something that they admire, enjoy, or might emulate.

Reflect and Reenter

When an incident occurs, youth can spend time in reflection by writing and identifying: a) what happened; b) what was my role in the problem?; c) what could I have done differently?;


Use reframing to defuse anger and keep dialogue open and positive. To reframe, take a negative statement and remove the emotionally-charged, damaging, and accusatory words, thus changing the statement to be solution-focused.

Restorative Justice

(RJ) is a problem-solving approach that focuses on relationships and building community. It is an approach to justice that focuses on the needs of the victims and the offenders, as well as the involved community, instead of satisfying abstract principles or punishing the offender. It counters the “no tolerance” policies currently in place, especially for more minor offenses. Victims take an active role in the process, while offenders are encouraged to take responsibility for their actions, to repair the harm they’ve done—by apologizing, returning what was lost, or through community service. RJ provides real justice for the victim and helps the offender to avoid future offences. RJ that fosters safe dialogue between victim and offender shows the highest rates of victim satisfaction and offender accountability.

Revision Toolbox   

Teach youth that the writing process isn’t finished after the first draft. A good Revision Toolbox has tools that work with word choice, writing structures, and voice. Encourage youth to collect words and create their own thesaurus. Encourage them to experiment with time by using flashbacks or slow motion techniques. Teach them about character development and perspective. (See also: Process Writing)

Rewind Game

Take a current event or an event within the classroom, school, family or community. If we were to rewind this event, how would we rebuild the story? When were there critical points of challenge or failure? What would we have done at those critical points? With young children, this can be used when debriefing a conflict between peers.

Role Play

   A way of seeing situations play out and encouraging individuals to critically think about how to intervene, and in the process build compassion for alternate perspectives. Click on through for more information!

Roots of Empathy

An evidence-based K-8 classroom program started in Canada in 1996 which has shown significant effect in reducing levels of aggression among school children while raising social/emotional competence and increasing empathy. The mission is to build caring, peaceful, and civil societies through the development of empathy in children and adults. The “emotional literacy” taught in the program lays the foundation for more safe and caring classrooms, where children are the “Changers.” Click on through for more information

Rose and Thorn

A very simple communication and exploration exercise that can take place with youth and adults just about anywhere. Ideally, it would be used in a calm setting with all participants focused on the activity, such as at mealtime or bed time. Each person is asked to share a rose (the best, special, or most positive part of their day) and also a thorn (the difficult or challenging part of their day). This is a great way to get around one-word answers when you ask, “How was your day?” and it helps everyone think about sharing their news in a more in-depth way. It’s also great practice for active listening!

Rotating Facilitators

A way to build commitment, buy-in and skills is to alternate between facilitators during family meetings or classroom group work. Teach youth the skills of effective facilitation, including courtesy, careful listening, time management, and organization of ideas. They should routinely reflect on the challenges of effective facilitation and brainstorm solutions to address those challenges. Thus they constantly improve the process for the next facilitator.

Round Table/Robin

There is usually one piece of paper and one pen for the team. One youth makes a written contribution and then passes the paper and pen to the youth on his or her left. The paper and pen go around the table until each child has contributed. Round Robin is the oral counterpart of Round Table, where youth take turns speaking their answers or ideas and/or recording them. (

Safe Spaces

Ensure there is always a safe space for conversation. This is a space to gather, a place that honors, respects and makes people feel they can collaborate safely inside. Safe spaces also need to be developed for youth after school to ensure they have a safe place to be, away from any violence of their communities and homes. Have youth identify safe spaces in their neighborhoods, homes, classroom or school. Many peacebuilding activities listed here can take place within the Safe Space (i.e.: Peace Flower, Peer Mediation). Allow youth to decorate the space to make them feel that they own it. What do youth need from the adults around them in order to respect boundaries as well as nourishing a sense of peace?

Saving Face

Teach youth the importance of face-saving in a conflict. Teach them how to calm themselves or another angry person through deep breathing and validation of their needs. Restate the needs or issues involved in the conflict if the person has trouble understanding. Don’t be remembered as the person that “lost it” and let their emotions explode.

Seeds of Empathy

An evidence-based early childhood (age 3-5 years) program started in Canada in 2005, as the “younger sibling” of the Roots of Empathy K-8 program. The mission is to raise social/emotional understanding and literacy, and develop empathy in the youngest of children. (

Shared Decision-Making Pacts   

Identify the things that everyone in a group needs to resolve problems. Identify how decisions will be made in families, schools and workplaces to ensure that everyone feels comfortable and heard.

Shared Story Media

Find current events that may be similar to situations occurring in school or the home. For example, if youth discrimination, violence or mistreatment is an issue, find a current event that involves these issues. Deconstruct what happened—how does it apply to the current situation in our school or home? In addition to connecting school/home with the wider community, we can think about shared stories between nations or cultures. Find a current event in another country and reflect and critically analyze what happened before applying that understanding to events in the local or national news.

Shared Values and Commitments    

What do we want to see in our community, classroom or home? Identify shared rules together. Call them “peace actions” or ask individuals what they want to call them. Individuals should select no more than 5 rules and should review them every day. Post these peace actions in a prominent place, and refer to them when issues come up. Help individuals to share accountability for these expectations.

Shuttle Diplomacy

  A strategy for people to use when they see potential for solutions but don’t feel comfortable or safe bringing their ideas up publicly. Ask one of the people in a conflict, “Have you considered…?” or “What if you tried...?” after hearing from the other person that what they need is a form of shuttle diplomacy.

Silent Signals

 Adults often talk too much and our youth tune out. A silent signal speaks louder than words. Smile and point to the shoes that need to be picked up; use a consistent signal or sound that quiets a room; when you feel upset, put your hand on your heart to show youth that you care and then begin the conversation. When silent signals are not enough, use one word only, “dishes,” “bedtime,” “homework,” “forgive,” “hugs,” etc. to avoid lecturing.

Silk Road

Youth reflect on similarities and differences between belief systems. Using simple quotations from philosophical and religious texts, they are asked to organize quotations into broad categories of concern like Individual Behavior, Health, Ritual, Community, etc. Click on through for more on how to use this tool

Six Thinking Hats   

This is a simple, effective parallel thinking technique developed by E. de Bono.  It is intended to help people be more productive, focused, and mindfully involved, forcing them to move outside their habitual thinking styles and get a more rounded view of a situation. Click on through to learn more about this (non-Ceeds of Peace) program and website!

Snack Mediation

 Opportunities to share healthy snacks together builds community. Everyone begins eating together, often marking the time with a simple shared message. Parents or teachers can assist our youth in appreciating where our food comes from, asking what part of the snack took the longest time to grow, how the snack is helping our bodies, what food traveled the farthest, etc.

Socratic Seminar    

Titled after the Greek philosopher, Socratic dialogue transforms a student’s learning experience by allowing youth to generate and express their own ideas via the teacher asking questions as their primary method of instruction. It is collaborative, intellectual dialogue facilitated with open-ended questions about a topic, text, or issue. When done purposefully, the outcome is improved student achievement in speaking, listening and writing; higher youth motivation; fewer behavior problems; and a more respectful school culture.

Structured Academic Controversy    

An opportunity to explore controversial issues and divergent positions and work to reach consensus on what may have happened– highlighting the complexities of particular perspectives, opinions and events. Have youth argue one side of an argument and then have them switch sides before negotiating an agreement between the two sides. The controversial issues can be drawn from current events (Syria, Hong Kong, Gaza, etc.), from history (whether to drop the A-bomb on Hiroshima), from Science (stem cells), from English Literature (Hamlet’s decision) or Math (taxes or economic allocations/distribution). Debrief as a group before problem solving for solutions.

Switch Seats

Whether the conflict involves one or many people, have youth switch seats and role-play other positions, interests and needs. Debrief as a group before problem solving for solutions.

Talking Stick

  Use a tangible object like a stick, a flower, a ball, or something important to the group to facilitate a civil discussion. Whoever is holding the item is the one who is allowed to speak and share. Those without the item are expected to actively listen. Everyone gets a turn with the item, as well as the right to pass. Works well with all ages at home and in school.


 “I am SO grateful, that if I were a monster created by a mad scientist, my name would be Thankenstein.” Ask the child (or group of children) to draw their happy monster, Thankenstein. Click on through to read more and see examples!

Think – Pair – Share

Have youth think individually and record their views about a particular issue. Then have them share their ideas with one another. Teachers/parents can foster careful listening by having youth be responsible for representing their partners in a group share-out and discussion. The act of sharing another person’s ideas builds compassion and collaboration. By entrusting our feelings and ideas to another, we deepen our connections as a community. (

Think – Tac – Toe

An alternative assessment method that can be used with all grades and subject areas. In the tic-tac-toe 9-square grid, list a variety of activities and projects (simple, more difficult, and those that would take days to complete).Youth then select any run of three squares: vertical, horizontal or diagonal, letting them own their choices. In this format any set of choices will include a variety of types of activities. Youth then work in groups or individually to accomplish the three projects and to show understanding. (Howard Gardner)

Tic – Tac – Toe

 Tic Tac Toe boards give youth the opportunity to participate in multiple tasks that allow them to practice skills they’ve learned or to demonstrate and extend their understanding of concepts. To create a Tic Tac Toe board, identify the outcomes and instructional focus of a unit of study. Then use assessment data to discover learning styles. Design nine different tasks, and arrange them on the board and select one universal required task for all students. Put that task in the center square, and then ask them to complete two additional tasks, which form a column, row, or diagonal line.

Three Things About You

An activity that allows for exploration of diversity and elimination of stereotypes. Ask each person to write down three things that no one would know about them just by looking at them. Try to include one thing that makes you vulnerable, i.e. a fear. Then participants share what they wrote with a partner or part of a larger group, and the focus is on lessons of diversity and dissolution of stereotypes. Works best when people share in random order and also have the option to pass.

Treasure Hunts

Take youth on team treasure hunts. Ask critical questions along the way to solve a problem. With each treasure is a clue to solving the problem. You can have youth brainstorm the solutions as well as evaluate needs, resources, tools, and steps for each solution. Then they can write the clues and leave them for their classmates in the treasure hunt.

Twenty Questions

A great game in so many ways! Have one player think of an object. The other players will need to ask yes/no questions in an effort to guess what the object is. This game is fun and also helps youth fine-tune their critical thinking and creativity skills as they try and come up with more meaningful questions in order to name the object in as few guesses as possible.


A person who recognizes when something is wrong and then acts to make it right; doing one’s best to help support and protect someone who is being hurt; being socially responsible. There are many online campaigns and curricula that teach to being an upstander and combating bullying and negative peer behaviors. Most programs teach the concepts of diversity, tolerance, respect, courage, and leadership. The goal is to move youth from being non-acting bystanders to effective interveners.

Wagonload of Compassion

Share individual stories of people in need. Identify what everyone can contribute. Where could we find the needed materials? Together as a group, deliver the donated items to a nearby organization in wagons, if available. Work with the accepting agency to provide further information about the services and supports they provide. Examples :  donation to a local Food Bank; clothing to a homeless shelter

Weather Ball

Used as a tool for finding out how everyone is feeling. Pass the ball around and have them express what type of “weather” they feel like that day and why. This is a good tool for the beginning of the day.

Web of Life

At a transition point in the day, ask children to sit in a circle.  Holding a ball of yarn, each shares one important thing about their time together during the day.  While continuing to hold the loose end of string, the child then throws the ball to another child, who then takes a turn to share, and so on around the circle.  With each holding their part of string, a web of conncections will become evident.  The group leader can reinforce the interconnectedness of the children. (Thich, Nhat Hanh, Planting Seeds, 2011)

What Should We Do?

 Show pictures and/or video of certain situations at school and in the surrounding neighborhood. Examples include: seeing garbage on the floor, an elderly person dropping their cane, a person not able to get through a door because their hands are full, a child crying or looking sad, or classmates arguing or fighting. Hold a classroom discussion about how everyone thinks they should respond. Assistance for younger children is to present a picture version of three responses and have them color or point to the response they would choose.

What Would They Say?

Ask youth to critically think about how others might respond to their words and actions. “What would they say or think if you did or said _____?” Expand the effect of the activity by asking, “What do you think your teacher would say about that decision?” or “Your parent or coach, or other influential and trusted people in your life?” The goal is to get youth to think about how they want to be seen and how they want to impact their community and environment. When youth think more carefully about the effects of their actions and decisions, they begin to move and speak with greater care and mindfulness.

Where in the World?

Where in the World?    Show youth a variety of pictures of celebrations involving young people from around the world. Place cut-outs of known children/students into the celebration picture (make sure to rotate the pictures). Have the youth guess where the celebration is and what the kids are celebrating. What is the significance of the celebration? Do we have a similar celebration?

Whole Child

 Design lessons that focus on the whole child, including: health, nutrition, home life, community life, culture, emotions, and safety. Reflect on all that a child needs to grow strong in body, mind and spirit. How do we nourish these needs in multifaceted ways? Come up with a Whole Child Portrait of every child and think of the parts of each child’s identity that makes them unique or beautiful. Where do you see parts in need of attention or care? Click through for the Whole Child website link and information.

Winning Cooperation

Youth feel encouraged when others understand and respect their points of view. Express understanding for youths' thoughts and feelings.  Show empathy without condoning.  Share a time when you have felt or behaved similarly.   Share your own thoughts and feelings after fully listening to the youth, and then focus on creating solutions together.  (