By way of illustration let's look at one child's play at an apparatus I call Pipes embedded in planter trays. This apparatus has two PVC pipes embedded horizontally through two planter trays. The pipes extend beyond the ends of each tray so water empties into tubs next to the table.
In the photo below, the child is pouring water into one of the pipes and catching it with a red bowl as it exits the pipe at the end.
Below is the video clip of this child pouring the water into the syringe so he can catch it with his bowl. The clip shows that the child creates a narrative to his overall operation. It is a narrative about yummy and yucky sugar.
Yucky sugar from Thomas Bedard on Vimeo.
At the beginning of the clip, the child pours water from his ladle into the syringe and catches it with his bowl. When he does that, he declares: "Yummy sugar." As he moves to the center of the water table to scoop some more water, he further declares: "Not a yucky sugar." After he scoops water with his ladle and returns to the end of the table, he continues his narrative by saying: "A yucky sugar is too yucky for our oatmeal because it makes the oatmeal yucky."
How does pouring water into a syringe stuck in a pipe that carries the water out of the table into a waiting bowl become a narrative about yummy---not yucky---sugar in a bowl of oatmeal? I think that is possible because in play, children are able to transcend reality. They are able to make ordinary materials and objects represent something else. And often times what those ordinary materials and objects represent are other ordinary materials and objects that fit the narrative they are creating in real time.
Without really understanding the process as an adult, I can appreciate the children's ability to transcend reality to make the ordinary into something else just as ordinary. Maybe the extraordinary is not those ordinary materials and objects specifically. Rather, maybe the extraordinary is the ability of children to transcend the ordinary to use those materials and objects to represent something else. In other words, the extraordinary is the creative genius of the children they bring to their play to have ordinary things represent something totally different. In that case, there is no extraordinary without the ordinary.