The other day while I was volunteering at a local art studio I had one of our regular families come in to create with us. This particular family has an 8 year old girl and a 3 year old boy. While the girl loves art play and will spend the entire hour totally engaged with the materials, the boy isn't usually too interested. He generally spends the hour wondering the studio trailed by his mother or playing in the sand box. The sand box provides him with the sensory play he craves.
On this particular day the art educator had decided to not open the sand table and instead place out a variety of wooden pieces. The boy's mother had that look of panic that parents get when they think that their child is going to meltdown. Rather than have the family decide to leave I showed the boy the boxes of wood and demonstrated how I enjoyed feeling the different textures found on the pieces. I left the mother and boy as I went to see how the other famines were doing with the art materials.
When I came back this is what I found. The boy had taken the pieces and created this elaborate structure and was trying to maneuver a ball through it. He had engaged in creative play much to his mother's surprise!
What she had worried was going to be a disaster turned into an amazing chance for the boy to discover a new type of play.
And that is the wonder of play.