Bringing Peace to Children

Just like you, recent events have rocked me to the core. As humanity’s ugly underbelly is exposed with mange and open sores that continue to bleed, I’m seeking hope. For me, it lies with children. I have seen first hand that these innocents desire justice and harmony. I believe children have the power to create profound change in our world. If there is ever to be true peace, it must transcend the generations. But first they must dream of the changes they want. Here are ten creative ideas I’ve used with my students. Let’s all begin the change.


1. Make Peace Cards.


2. Make an anti-bully poster.

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3. Draw cartoons dealing a bully.


4. Paint a peace sign on a paper plate.


5. Create a Love the Earth card.


6. Make a dream board.


7. Photograph someone doing a kind act.


8. Create a dance high-fiving and smiling with your buds.


9. Film a video of yourself singing a peace song.

Colby Jeffers: Change the World

10. Paint a self-portrait.


Any more ideas? Share  and we’ll turn 10 to 10,000!

About Laurie: The author of The Pharaoh’s Cry,  Portal Shift, Kidnapped Smile, and Dragon Sky from the fantasy series The Artania Chronicles,  as well as the middle-grade Forest Secrets. Laurie Woodward  co-wrote Dean and JoJoThe Dolphin Legacy. Her poetry has been published in multiple journals and anthologies and she was a collaborator on the popular anti-bullying DVD Resolutions. Bullied as a child, Laurie is now an award-winning peace consultant, poet,  and blogger who helps teach children how to avoid arguments, stop bullying, and maintain healthy friendships. She writes on the Central Coast of California. More about her work can be found at

Lifeline: A Peace Poem

We are the weavers of children

Whether they are wading, treading, or drowning

Each child is reaching out

For lifelines to pull them from their semi-fluid perceptions,

Yet many find flimsy ribbons braided with Achilles tendons

That split, then disconnect buoys

As they struggle in turbulent effluent.

Sometimes suspension bridges splinter

Bodies flailing and thrashing.

And they hang mid-air over purgatorial precipices.

And so we come,

The weavers,

Bringing strong cordage and twine of seraphic gossamer

To silence their cries and give them hope.

  And when we set to work,

The floundering souls reach out for lifelines.

For we know the secret.

We have only to pluck the hairs from atop our heads,

Begin intertwining them with gentle words of a peaceful future

And thus create:

            Blankets to keep them cool on hot summer days

            Or safety nets for acrophobic trapeze artists

With loving words we

Spin arks to race arid currents,

Or create buoyant suits that deflect each incoming wave,

But we must remember

To continue weaving at our numinous looms,

And make our fingers deft

To find places where weft meets warp

And make fibers of

Ethereal clouds to moisten parched radices.

When our eyes grow weary of patterns too subtle for children to see,

Or when aching backs and cramping forearms make for troublesome twining 

Even when our hands become bloodied by sharp sutures from the unknowing

or the insane,

            We must endure

            We are the weavers,

Intertwining and intersecting,

Spinning fibrous cable that children cling to

That they will wrap round their waists

Before plunging into cavernous incarnations

To discover,

In the depths,

A reflection of the future

A reflection of themselves

A reflection

Of the peace weaver they can become.

Laurie Woodward is the author of The Pharaoh’s Cry,  Kidnapped Smile, and Dragon Sky from the fantasy series The Artania Chronicles,  as well as the middle-grade Forest Secrets. She co-wrote Dean and JoJoThe Dolphin Legacy and was a collaborator on the popular anti-bullying DVD Resolutions. Bullied as a child, Laurie is now an award-winning peace consultant, poet,  and blogger who helps teach children how to avoid arguments, stop bullying, and maintain healthy friendships. She writes on the Central Coast of California. More about her work can be found at

The Talking Stick

“The two main purposes of class meetings are to help each other and to solve problems,” Jane Nelson says. According to William Glasser, the American psychiatrist who developed Choice Theory, class meetings are a time when “the teacher leads the whole class in a non-judgmental discussion.” I read when my students one day when I was frustrated by all of the complaints my students had.

Among the guidelines were a list of dos and don’ts. For example, blame or put-downs were not allowed. These meetings were a place to solve problems, listen to the person speaking, and give each child a voice.

Just what my class needed.

The next day, I told my students to get in a circle and then showed them a wooden mallet I use for a singing bowl.

“Today we are going to have a class meeting. This is the talking stick,” I said, holding it up. “It is for taking turns. As we pass it around, each person will have a chance to share, but only the person holding it speaks; everyone is quiet and listening.”

The kids started to giggle. A few poked each other in the ribs. I expected this.

“I’ve noticed that lately some of you have had some issues with other kids in our class,” I said in quiet voice. “Many of you have come to me with problems and I set aside this time to work them out. But remember we are talking about feelings, not tattle or name call. If someone shares a concern with you, you have two choices. You either say, ‘Thank you for sharing,’ or apologize. No arguing is allowed.”

I looked around the circle and waited for focus. Many kids nodded and sat up straight, seeming to understand the solemnity of what was about to happen.

I then explained that wanted to create a better class community.  We would get to to know each other better, share joys and gratitude, and work out conflicts. “I’ll start with an example,” I said, I turning to one boy in my class, whose name is changed to ‘Cole’ for privacy.

“Cole, I feel upset about the choices you have made lately. You have thrown things,  and disturbed kids trying to work.”

Cole’s face blanched at first but then he lifted his gaze to meet mine and mumbled a sincere apology.

Recognizing how difficult that was for him, I congratulated him on his bravery  before passing the talking stick to the child on my left.  She could either share an “I feel” messages or pass. She chose to pass but I was surprised to find that many children were very open to sharing.

Over the next twenty minutes, students found their voice. Some faced those who had bullied them and said how much it hurt. Bullies apologized and thanked the speaker for sharing. Two girls, who had been arguing and talking behind each other’s backs, shared about how much they missed each other. A few acknowledged friends and thanked them for being there. Even a couple of my shyest students spoke up to say how they felt about name calling.

On the second pass around the circle I focused on problem solving having each child say; “I know we’ve had problems in the past but I’d like to__________.”  As they filled in the blanks, I was amazed that every single child said they’d like to be friends

At the end of the meeting, I thanked them all with the reminder that this was a special time for our class, not something to gossip about. They could share it with their parents but aside from that, what was said in a class meeting was private.

At the next gathering I was thrilled to discover how much better they’d been getting along. Those who had been gossiping were now sitting next to each other with their arms draped over each other’s shoulders. There wasn’t a single report of bullying.

Oh sure, there are still days when my students push it. But when things start to feel out of control, I gather everyone in a circle to remind them that they have a choice. They can continue letting the bullying and disruption continue, or they can use their words to effect change.

I have found that when children are given the right communication tools, they can rise to the occasion. I think one of my students put it best in a pen pal letter she wrote; “We used to have bullies in our class but now kids are being nice. We know we have the power to make peace.”


A teacher, Laurie Woodward is the author of  several novels including Forest Secrets, and the fantasy series The Artania ChroniclesShe also cowrote Dean and JoJoThe Dolphin Legacy and was a collaborator on the popular anti-bullying DVD Resolutions. Bullied as a child, Laurie is now an award-winning peace consultant and blogger who helps teach children how to avoid arguments, stop bullying, and maintain healthy friendships. She writes her novels on the Central Coast of California.

Making Peace Cards

“Ms. Woodward! She’s being mean to me!” “Mom, he went in my room again!” “Mr. Garcia, Sam won’t play with me.”  If  these outbursts sound familiar, you’ve probably found that every fix was temporary. And frustrating.  But don’t worry, most teachers and parents feel the same way.

So what to do? If you can’t fix these problems, who will?

The children.

For years, I tried solving problems for my students only to have them come back with the same exact issue a week later. Then I started to research conflict resolution, reading everything I could find on bullying and peace. I then took a course from Teachers Without Borders on peace in the classroom and began to experiment with tools for solving conflicts.

That’s when I hit on the idea of Peace Cards. Once I  started using them, I was amazed at the results.  They really work.
They empower children to come up with solutions themselves.

Here are the steps I go through with my students:

First,  you’ll need to teach them the three types of conflict resolution.

Materials:  Index cards, markers or crayons, whiteboard.

Step 1) Write the following on the board, chart paper or electronic whiteboard:
a) Passive = Giving in to another. (lose, win)
b) Aggressive = Attacking another. (lose, lose)
c) Assertive = Be firm with desired outcome. (win, win)
Step 2) Explain to children that these are the three ways that conflicts or problems can be resolved.
Step 3) Give examples of each. a) Passive might be when one child says, “Give me your lunch money,” and the other gives it freely. In this case the victim loses but the bully wins.( lose, win)  b) Aggressive might be when one child says, “Give me your lunch money,” and the other responds by punching him in the nose. In this case both get hurt and in trouble. (lose, lose) c)Assertive vocabulary is when one child says, “Give me your lunch money,” and the other responds with a strong no without resorting to name calling. (win,win)

I usually invite a student to role play these choices with me, overacting in a silly way with overly exaggerated gestures to get them to laugh about how ridiculous it is to punch a kid (for aggressive behavior) or to shrink away with a Charlie Brown voice (for passive behavior.) Then we role play the assertive no demonstrating the effectiveness of standing up for yourself peacefully.

Step 4) Write three headings on the board

Passive                  Aggressive                      Assertive


Ask students to give examples of when they’ve experienced each and record their responses.

Step 5) Show students examples of Peace Cards. Go over good choice examples written on the back. Then Pass out index cards and invite children to make their own positive choice for conflict resolution. They draw and write a caption for a good choice.


Step 6) Collect. Place inside a basket or a box in a easily visible place. This will remind the       class of positive choices for the future. Tell students that if they ever have a conflict with another child in the future they can make a new card or share an existing one with him/her.

Follow up: Now whenever students have conflicts that do not need serious intervention by an adult, tell them to use these tools. Have the disagreeing children discuss how to come up with a win-win situation and then invite them to make Peace Cards about how they could handle the situation better.

You’ll be surprised at their solutions.
Good luck!


A teacher, Laurie Woodward is the author of  several novels including Forest Secrets, and the fantasy series The Artania ChroniclesShe also cowrote Dean and JoJoThe Dolphin Legacy and was a collaborator on the popular anti-bullying DVD Resolutions. Bullied as a child, Laurie is now an award-winning peace consultant and blogger who helps teach children how to avoid arguments, stop bullying, and maintain healthy friendships. She writes her novels on the Central Coast of California.


Social Justice in the Classroom

Looking for more resources on social justice in language teaching? Check out the Social Justice Warriors webpage and the library of resources they have on advocacy, anti-racist classrooms, multilingualism, and other topics. Leave a comment with your recommended link! Source: Social Justice Warriors.Language Educators.Stop the Deficit.

via Social Justice in Language Education Resources — Language for Peace Forum

Peace Mediators in Seven Easy Steps

Fighting? Bullying? Gossip? When I started to see lots of problems on the playground I decided it was time to try something new. But I didn’t want kids to feel like I was just adding another rule. I decided to empower kids with a program that they could manage, organize, and man.
We called them Dolphin Mediators.
What are they? Dolphin Mediators are a group of student volunteers who help to keep our school calm. After I train the kids in assertive language, they memorize my script and roll-play situations. Once they seem comfortable with everything from stopping a bully to helping little ones take turns, they are approved to be recess monitors. Then they walk the playground, clipboard in hand, helping our school keep the peace.

If you’d like to give it a try at your school the lesson goes as follows:

Objective: Students will learn positive communication techniques to help other children resolve conflicts peacefully on the playground.

Materials: Clipboards, reward tickets, pens, Dolphin Mediator Script.

Background: Dolphin Mediators are a group of students who have volunteered to act as a go-between for other kids who might be having a conflict. With a faculty advisor, they use a prepared script to help others learn to take turns, communicate with “I feel” messages, and come up with win-win situations. At recesses, they offer advice, guidance, and rewards to those who resolve conflicts peacefully.

1) Ask for volunteers for friend mediators. Tell the students that they must be approved by a teacher to be accepted.
2) Once there are volunteers invite students to attend training.
3) At the training review the three different types of communicating
a) Passive = Giving in to another. (lose, win)
b) Aggressive = Attacking another. (lose, lose)
c) Assertive = Be firm with the desired outcome. (win, win)
4) Next, tell them that the goal is always to help others engage in win-win.
5) Also, advise them that this program is only for mild disagreements. It is not their job to be involved in situations where they could be hurt, such as breaking up fist fights. Leave those to adults.
6) Rehearse the following script with the volunteers:


AMBASSADOR 1: Hi my name is__________
AMBASSADOR 2: And my name is________
ALL TOGETHER: And we are Dolphin Mediators.
AMBASSADOR 1: We are here to help you solve this issue. But before we start there are few guidelines.
AMBASSADOR 2: Yes. First is that the only person who can speak is the person holding the clipboard. (Holds up clipboard.)
AMBASSADOR 1: Each one of you will have a turn to share your problem, then we’ll try to help you so both of you feel better.
AMBASSADOR 2: But remember that our goal is always to have a win-win situation.
AMBASSADOR 1: Now tell me what happened.(Passes clipboard to one child. When the first child is done takes clipboard back.) Now it is your turn. (Repeats with clipboard pass.)
AMBASSADOR 2: Now let’s try to find some win-win solutions where you both feel happy.(Asks each child to come up with a solution that makes both happy.


AMBASSADOR 1: Congratulations you just took a dolphin detour.
AMBASSADOR 2: And here is your ticket. (Fills in names and gives them ticket explaining it will be used for rewards later.)

7)  Send children out to the playground.

I’d love to hear how things go. Let me know what happened at your school with Dolphin Mediators.

Dean with The Dalai Lama

Peace. A word. A concept. For a select few, like the Dalai Lama, a state of being. But for all too many children, it is sadly elusive. So many young people across the world deal with hunger, abuse, terror, and homelessness. But everyone can make a difference. And I suppose that’s why my friend and collaborator, Dean Bernal, and I worked so hard on creating peace curriculum which is now being shared world-wide.

Recently, he brought the Peace with the Environment program to the Tibetan’s in Exile School in Dharamsala, India. On June 7, 2017 for World Ocean’s Day he presented in His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s TCV school program to senior and junior students. Another second project on June 8th also for World Oceans connected school kids in Mali Africa with TVC school kids in Dharamsala India to talk about Dean & JoJo and protecting the oceans and planet. Environmental groups and individuals from around the world were truly inspired by His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s views, concerns, spiritual inspiration, and advice about the environment and all life.

Dean tibet
Mr. Dean Bernal was there as a special guest of the of the TCV school and addressed the existing and also new thoughts and ideas of Tibetan students as part of the Dalai Lama’s program. As an introduction, Mr. Bernal presented an example of his powerful environmental story and spiritual path of healing, that has reached over 1.5 billion people today.
Dean’s compassion for an orphaned wild dolphin named JoJo and the need to protect both their ocean and terrestrial homes allowed them to build a lifelong friendship that continues to inspire people to find their true and compassionate path in life.
backpage kids book
Dean addressed an important human element, that as an evolving species capable of contemplating an enlightened path, we are taking part in a collective consciousness of global preservation. In searching to recognize and provide for this living planet and ocean, which is presently our only known life support system, we must provide it with our collective healing by protecting our environment.
Dean addressed the students on environmental issues, the importance of true to source compassion on global preservation, passion from the heart to protect habitats, and truth in the place of origin and its global impact on the environment. Students were encouraged to talk about the environmental teaching by His Holiness the Dalai Lama and shared their thoughts, experiences, views, and projects. Dean then collaborated with like~minded individuals seeking to support students during this insightful presentation.
Wonderful work Dean! I am so proud of my dear friend!

Seeing Through Another’s eyes

drama-mask-3If your children or students are having trouble with bullying, assertiveness, or empathy here is a lesson you might want to try.

Objective: The learner will increase their understanding of what other children feel through making either a bully or victim mask then pretending to be that person while wearing it.

Materials: Pencils, construction paper or paper plates, thin paper or tissue paper, craft glue, craft sticks. crayons, markers, scissors. Chart paper, white board or electronic whiteboard.  If you’d like a premade mask click on the words “Mask template”  following for a link to a reproducible:  mask template

Procedure: 1. List the four kinds of bullies on the board.

Verbal                  Physical                 Social                 Cyber         

Cruel words       Hurting bodies    Excluding          Text

Name calling      Pushing                Gossip           Social Media

Intimidation      Touching              Cliques                Email

2. Ask the children to imagine what the face of the bully looked like when he/she was bullying. Ask the children to imagine what the victim’s face looked like when he/she was being harassed.

3. Tell them that they are going to make a mask either of a bully or a victim. Encourage about half of children to be each.

4. Pass out art supplies.

5. Go over steps for masks:

Step 1: Sketch an outline of the shape you want to make, using the inside edge of the rim of a paper plate as a guide for the bottom of the face. Cut along sketch lines. Step 2: To make hair, cut paper into a rectangle about 2 or 3 inches wide and 2 to 18 inches long. Put this shape through a paper crimper if you want to make the hair even wilder. Fringe the rectangle to within 1/2 inch of the long edge. Cut the fringed rectangle into smaller pieces, and glue pieces around the top of the plate. Glue craft stick to bottom as holder. Let dry.

6. Once the masks are complete have students look through them and pretend to be the bully or the victim.

7. Keep the masks for role play. Or as an extension the children could write scripts and act them out.

Character Counts

IMG_0269Does your school honor students monthly? Do you host assemblies to recognize exemplary behavior but then  wonder if you are truly encouraging character development or just checking off a box? Like many schools, ours has a monthly assembly for one student who stands out as an example for others. And, like many teachers, I have always thought of the process as a series of checking off boxes. I’d look for that child who behaved well, check, did their homework, check,  and demonstrated exemplary effort. Check, check, check.

But then I wondered, what character traits do students admire? So I decided to ask them, “Who do you think the student of the month should be?” Almost every child recommended a good athlete or his/her best friend giving way us too many nominees. Okay, that didn’t work so back to the drawing board. I was pretty frustrated and ready to just go back to the way I’d always done it. But then I was talking with another teacher who suggested the class write an essay giving reasons why their candidate was the best. The kids liked the idea so we gave it a try.

Reading these papers really opened my eyes. Kids saw things in each other that astounded and me. Things I never did. At the same time, the way they revered friendship and loyalty made me proud to be their teacher.

If you’d like to get some unique insight into how your kids value character while teaching about persuasive writing, here’s my lesson.  Let me know how it goes!


Objective: The learner will practice persuasive essay writing by creating a paragraph about why one of his/her classmates should be nominated as student of the month.

Materials: Paper, pencils, white board or electronic whiteboard. Sample of persuasive essay format.


  1. Go over the parts of a paragraph:
    1. Topic Sentence: Tells what the entire paragraph is about.
    2. Supporting Details: Sentences that support/prove the topic.
    3. Conclusion: a creative sentence at the end that sums  up all ideas.
  2. Tell the students that they are going to write a special kind of paragraph, called Persuasive. Write: Persuasive on board and ask students what they think it means. Take responses, then explain that these type of essay seek to influence opinions.
  3. Ask students to give examples of who they think is a hero. List responses on the board. Ask for reasons why. List them.
  4.  The teacher models proving that an individual was a hero by stating something like, “Martin Luther King is my hero for numerous reasons, First, he stood up for civil rights, Second, he used peaceful methods to change our country..”
  5. Using the teacher’s statement as a model, have a few volunteers share why a certain individual is their favorite hero.
  6. Tell the students that they are going to write their own persuasive paragraph to nominate a student of the month. If desired the following sentence frame could be used:

            _________should be Student of the Month for a variety of reasons. First he/she is________. In addition _________does ___________Furthermore, he/she often_______._____ is a good citizen when he/she____________. Vote for _____. She/He is___!

  1. Students write essay, remembering to indent, capitalize and put in end punctuation.