A Puppet Musical About Conflict Resolution

By: Michael Cotter and Jeremy Young

Building Bridges is an introduction to peaceful conflict resolution and peer mediation. Developed in workshops with At-Risk students and peer mediators, Building Bridges follows a student's day at home, at school, on the playground, and in the neighborhood - always focusing on the peaceful solution to conflict. This is a dynamic, upbeat, and inspirational show about the real conflicts, pressures, and problems that young people confront every day.


OBJECTIVES: To introduce the techniques of peer mediation in the school environment.

To present the concepts of peaceful conflict resolution in a captivating, dramatic way for students.

To engage the students with the powerfully creative medium of puppet theatre.

To introduce students to the activity of journaling in the context of daily life.

BUILDING BRIDGES is 45 minutes in length and suitable for grades K through 8. We prefer to set up on the floor level in front of your stage. Seating may be on the floor or in chairs, with the first row being 15 feet from the stage for good visibility.


1. What does it mean to resolve a conflict?

2. What is a peer?

3. What do we mean by mediation? (media, Latin = middle)

4. Why do people keep journals?

5. What problems have you had at home or at school?

6. How have you dealt with problems of conflict?

7. Talk about shows and drama. Discuss how we can learn from a play. Talk about the differences between a play and a puppet show. The similarities.

8. Who was Martin Luther King, Jr.? Mahatma Gandhi? What do we mean by non- violence?



1. Make a journal of your day from the time you got up this morning until right now. Include details and how you felt about things. (Share thoughts if desired)

2. Make a list of situations where you feel conflict. Write how you feel and ways you deal with it.

3. Learn the actions that accompany the song, "Building Bridges". (School has copy of actions, tape, and music)



1. Did you enjoy the show? Who can say what the show was trying to teach us?

2. Who did you relate to more, Justine being bothered all the time? Or Dysseus wanting to have more freedom? Or Reggy feeling powerless against a big guy? Or Squeaky just wanting to play ball? Or Angel looking for revenge?

3. Why was there conflict in the cafeteria? Could anyone have done something different to help resolve it?

4. On the playground, was it too late to do anything to avoid the fight? Could anyone have done something differently that might have helped?

5. What happens in Peer Mediation?

6. What are the Four Promises that help Peer Mediation succeed? (Tell the Truth, Listen, Work on an Agreement, Stick to the Agreement)

7. How did you feel about what Squeaky or Angel did?

8. What else could Reggy and Justine have done?

9. Did the outcome seem fair to you? Tell your reasons, and suggest what might have been another outcome.

10. What is a Win-Win situation? (Both sides are satisfied with the outcome of a situation) What would be Win-Lose or Lose-Lose? Which do you think is best?


1. Keep a journal for one week. Record anything you choose, including your feelings and your thoughts.

2. List different ways to deal with a conflict at home, at school, or in the neighborhood.

3. Watch the news on television each night for a few days and record instances of violence and instances of conflict resolution. An example of violence would be a bombing in Croatia. An instance of conflict resolution would be a trip by the Secretary of State to the peace talks between Israel and Palestine. Does there seem to be more of one than the other? Report your findings back to class.

4. Drop a line to the puppeteers telling them what you liked or got out of the show.



1. Fighting Invisible Tigers: A Student's Guide to Life in the Jungle          E. Hipp

2. Getting Even                                                                                     M. Jukes

3. The Moves Make the Man                                                               B. Brooks

4. Charlie Pippin                                                                                   C.D. Boyd

5. Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing                                                       J. Blume

6. The Shimmershine Queens                                                                C. Yarbrough

7. Buddies                                                                                            B. Park

8. Peaceful Fighter: Gandhi                                                                   E.R. Montgomery

9. Mother Theresa: Friend of the Friendless                                           C. Greene

10. Meet Martin Luther King Jr.                                                           J.T. deKay


1. Creative Conflict Resolution                                                              W. Kriedler

2. From Conflict to Resolution                                                              S. Heitler

3. Kids Can Cooperate: Practical Guide to Problem Solving                  E. Crazy

4. The Mediation Process: Practical Strategies for Resolving Conflict C.W. Moore

5. Survival Kit for Parents and Teachers                                                Collins & Benjamin

6. Aggression in our Children                                                                H. Perenz

7. Siblings Without Rivalry                                                                    A. Faber & E.Mazlish

8. Resolving Conflict Through Mediation                                               Aetna Life Insurance

9. Conflict Management Training Guide                                                 Concerned Teens,Inc.

10. Ongoing Training Activities for Student Mediators                           Our Town Family Center:                                                                                                                    

                                                                                                            Tucson, AZ