I never really considered pointing as this amazing child ability, until my son couldn't do it. I then learned there are two main types of pointing: things you are pointing to up close (proximal) and things you are pointing to far away (distal).
We started with proximal pointing a few years ago. I formed his hand into a point, and carried him around his room, pointing to the large train stickers on his wall.
"Hi Thomas," I said, then guided his hand over until his pointer finger touched Thomas. Then it was Percy's turn. "Hi Percy," I said.
It was our nightly ritual to greet all 15 characters. Then one day, he finally could hold his hand in the shape of a point on his own. Then we moved onto books, and as his vocab expanded, we could ask him questions. "Where is the duck?" I'd ask, and he'd point and touch the page.
Then we expanded to things that were far away/distal. First, I taught him the object using PowerPoint on the computer. Once I was sure he knew what it was (ie: flag), I asked him to point to it on walks. "Where is the flag?" And up went his hand, pointing to it.
He is just now getting better at doing it spontaneously while verbally telling me he wants something, AND looking back at me to make sure I saw it (joint attention). We attended a back to school party in a park, and he wanted to use the bounce house.
"Mommy can I have slide jump?" he asked, finger extended, perfect point, and then looking back at me.
"First snow cone for girls, then jump house. Good job though Zavier," I replied. "Good pointing. Good talking. Good looking at me."
The joy of seeing him point, talk, and then look at me never gets old. Everything he learns and then pulls off successfully - even something as simple as a point - feels like a daily miracle. Not much is taken for granted in our house.