Session 2:  Conflict A – Causes and Effects



·        To present the idea of communication and its importance.

·        To define conflict and develop a language for discussing conflict.

·        To get students thinking about what conflict means to them.




q     Two or three balls—can be tennis balls, etc. or a large piece of chart paper wadded up and taped together

q     Paper, markers/crayons/colored pencils



I.        Review of last week

II.     Opener:  Circular Ball Toss

III.   Introduction to Conflict:  The Conflict Tree

IV.  Draw Your Own Conflict Tree

V.     PB&J Orchestra




PEACE PHRASE #2:  It’s not you against me, it’s you and me against the problem.

The problem is the problem.  By focusing on the problem, and not the person with the problem, a climate of cooperation is established.



I.                   Review of the last session

            Discuss the concepts that were introduced in the last session.


II.                 Opener: Circular Ball Toss



·        Gather the students in a circle.

·        Tell the students that you are going to pick a student at random and toss the ball to them.

·        Tell them that you will call out their name right before you toss the ball, so that they will know that the ball is coming.

·        That student will then toss the ball to someone else in the circle, first calling out that person’s name. This will continue until the last person to receive the ball tosses it back to you.

·        After someone has received the ball, they will place their hands on their hips (or chose another recognizable gesture) so everyone will know who has already received the ball.


A.     Play the game as described above once through with one ball.

B.     Now tell the students that you have a challenge for them.  You want to see if the group can work together and get the ball back to you without dropping it.  If it is going well, add the second ball.  (Adding the third ball is optional and should be done at your discretion.)

C.     Pay attention to the way that people are working together.  If the ball is dropped, start over again; but first, ask what they could do to help the pass to be completed.  Suggest to the students that the ball is an important message that they must pass and ask them to keep this important task in mind as they are tossing the ball. Continue until the ball has gone all the way around the circle.

D.     After the game has been successfully completed, ask the students what they needed to do in order to make sure that the ball/message was properly received.  Ask them how they might apply this to other situations in their lives and how good communication might help a conflict situation.

III.             Defining Conflict


Objective:  Get the students thinking about what conflict means to them.  This is the abstract part of the conflict lessons.  Lesson 3 will focus on actions that make conflicts better or worse.



q     Note:  please make sure that the students understand that conflict can be good too.  Explain that conflict is a part of life and that everyone gets involved in conflicts once in awhile.  Tell them that Peace by PEACE is not here to teach them that we should never have conflicts.  Instead, Peace by PEACE teaches them how to deal with conflicts so that we can learn and grow from them.


1.                  Creating a Conflict Tree:


In this activity, you will present the idea of conflict by grouping words which the students suggest into causes, results, and further results of a conflict.  These groupings will be represented in the form of a tree.


1.1.Tell the students you need some help in defining the word conflict.  Let them know that this is going to be a brainstorming session and that you want them to say everything that comes to their minds when they think of the word conflict.  List each word in a column on one side of the blackboard.

1.2.Now begin to draw the “conflict tree” by sketching the outline of the tree on the blackboard.  Ask the students which words belong at the roots of a conflict (these should include emotions and ultimate causes) and which belong along the trunk and on the branches.  The branches should be the end result of a conflict (a broken leg, or hurt feelings, or the results of the conflict being resolved, like sharing the workload, etc).  The results can further branch out into more extreme results (loss of friendship, death, war, etc; if it gets worked out, respect for each other or strengthening of friendship, etc).  Along the trunk you can use words which describe the actual type of conflict (violent, internal, family, global, etc.)  Use your own judgement, as there will be some gray areas.  An example is shown in the box below:

Sample Conflict Tree





Branches: Results















Roots: Causes


Breaking Down the Ideas

Here you will discuss with the students how you grouped the words along the tree.  Read off all the words from the column.  Have the students help you.  Tell them you would like to divide these words into different categories as follows:

°  Causes of Conflict
°  Types of Conflict (and examples of the different types)
°  Results of Conflict

Have the students help you place each of the words from the Conflict Tree into one of these categories and chart them on the board.  Encourage the students to add new ideas as they think of them.


Ask the students how they define conflict.  Ask them what it means to them.  Try to define the ideas of global, national, community, and personal conflict.  Using the conflict tree, find examples of these different types of conflict.  Make sure your discussion touches on the different ways that conflict can be both negative and positive.  That is, a conflict is a good way to externalize viewpoints or to make your opinion known.  What is tricky, though, is to identify when and how conflict can get out of hand.


Some prompter questions are:

  1. What causes conflict?
  2. What makes it worse?
  3. What makes you angry/jealous?
  4. What feelings cause conflict?
  5. What do you fight about?
  6. What are some good things about conflict?


1.                  Personal Experience

Ask the students in your class to share experiences they have had with conflict, or conflicts they have observed.  For each example, discuss what type of conflict it was, what caused the conflict, and how the conflict was resolved.  If possible, try to relate this to the charting done above.  Ask the students to think of other ways the conflict could have been resolved.  Have the students consider the difference between self-defense and an act of pure violence.  Attempt to define a boundary between the two. 

2.                  Bring up the idea of resolving a conflict.  We want to introduce this idea early on, because it is a theme that we will keep coming back to over the next few weeks.  Ask the class how conflicts are settled:  Does someone always win?  Does someone have to give in?  Can compromise work?  If possible, bring up the idea of mediation and its benefits.  Again, ask the students to define what they think mediation is and to give any examples.  Are judges mediators?  Can anyone mediate a conflict?  How helpful is it to have a third person involved who is not going to take sides?

IV.              Draw Your Own Conflict Tree

Give your students paper and markers or crayons.  Have them invent a conflict or use one from personal experience and then have them draw their own conflict tree.  After everyone has had enough time, give them a chance to discuss their conflicts, the causes of them, what type they are, and the results. 



If you have time leftover, you can do the following activity.  If you don’t have time, please begin with it in the next lesson:


V.  Activity: PB&J Orchestra

Explain to the class that you are now going to do a lesson that will give them a hint of what the class will be talking about for the next few weeks: how to solve conflicts.  There will not be a conflict, but what the students are doing is key to understanding how to handle conflicts:


Divide the class into three groups.  The students can stay in their seats for this activity.  The first group will say “Bread” over and over again (think: slow rhythmic bass/tuba/trombone part).  One group will chant "Peanut Butter” (think: moderate saxophones, trumpet part).  The other group will sing "Jelly" (think: melodic upper woodwinds part).   You act as the conductor and direct the "orchestra".  Students must listen to each other to maintain the balance of the PB&J orchestral piece.  This game is a Festival staple, so be prepared to become part of the New Haven/Hamden local PB&J Orchestra.


Discuss how working together can solve conflicts.  Lead the students in a discussion – don’t lecture.  Talk about what happens when people don’t work together (Does this cause conflicts?  Does this ever help conflicts to get resolved or does it always make them worse?  What kinds of every-day conflicts – interpersonal, or in the city – could working together solve?)





Extra Games:  Pass the Pulse, “Peace Picture” or Secretary Role Play, found in the appendix.





Ž    Clean-up!

Ž    Tell the class when you will be visiting next..

Ž    Discuss with the teacher how your group handled the students and ask for his or her critique.