I met 'Eva', aged 6 in her classroom to take her to Art Therapy. She was sitting on cushions reading a book. When her teacher asked her to finish to come with me she resisted and began to get upset. It seemed crazy to take a child away from a book but I soon found myself outside the room with Eva in a highly distressed state.
I took her hand and walked her through the school swinging her arm gently without talking. She continued howling but stopped walking when we got to the fishtank. We went closer and Eva stopped crying as she watched the fish. She put her finger onto the glass and followed a fish around the tank with her finger against the glass. We stayed watching the fish for about 15 minutes. Then I said, "Come on. I'll take you to my art room."
Eva came with me quietly but started screaming again in the room as I put on her art smock. I showed her the paper and paint. She began to calm down as she worked the paint on the paper in one place until the wet patch became a hole. I put another sheet under the paper and showed her how to paint through the hole to make a pattern of dots underneath.
I started painting the fish. I talked to Eva as I painted details. "Look here are the four fish. They are swimming around looking for food" and later "Here are the plants at the bottom". Eva remained focused on her painting. She didn't appear to take notice of my image or remarks but I continued, "Now someone has opened the lid of the tank and put in some food. The fish are now swimming around eating the food". Eva turned to look at the image and painted a smiling face on the painting. I said "It's Eva looking at the fish in the tank". She was smiling.