Beauty of Grapat and Loose Parts Play
Grapat is our new favourite wooden toy line! After 10 years of experience with beautiful, open ended wooden toys, I thought we'd seen it all. Then came along this little, family run business from Spain with an obsessive commitment to sustainability, conscious manufacturing, freedom of play in childhood and straight up gorgeous open ended toys.
These are real toys made by real people with real values. Beautiful, earthy, vibrant toys that vibrate with joyful energy and beg to be picked up and played with. Whenever I photograph or set up Grapat toys in a display, I find myself getting happily lost in play. I've noticed the same effect when my son plays with them (currently five years old). The same thing happens to our friends and family who come over and see our Grapat pieces.
These toys are meditative and thoughtful. They encourage a child (or adult!) to slow down and be guided by something internal and pure.
So what's so special? What do these toys do?
Nothing. And that's their magic.
It’s the kids who power the play with these toys, which is exactly Grapat’s mission. They are simply a tool the child can use to express themselves, like crayons and paper.
We've been playing with these Grapat mandala pieces (along with some Grapat nins, coins and rings) non stop lately at my house. Our whole family wants to play with them as well as anyone else who's been over and seen our Grapat toys still out on the floor because NONE OF US wants to put them away. Kids and adults alike.
What Can You Do With Grapat Toys?
Place the pieces in beautiful patterns just for the fun of it, or create a magical land for your play figures to navigate. Make little stacks and towers, or sort into gorgeous little piles of colour treasure. Use the pieces as "money" in a play shop. Pretend it's food for your dolls. Make a treasure trail to tempt a fairy or a unicorn. In these photos, my son made a parade for Lunar New Year and a very special birthday cake (pictured here with Magic Wood's treeblocks). You can do whatever you want! No rules.
Grapat toys are also fantastic for promoting creative open ended play, and their open endedness makes them a perfect match for so many other toys. We've been having fun mixing Grapat in with our toys from Grimms, Maileg and Ambrosious in particular, but they could easily be used with animal figures from Holztiger, Ostheimer or Schleich or even Playmobil, Calico Critters or Lego figures. No rules.
One of my favourite benefits of playing with Grapat is how they encourage mindfulness at any age. Mindfulness just means paying attention to the present moment, but it's a skill that must be practiced, especially the busier and noisier our world gets. The ability to shut out distractions is one of the key factors to success in any area of life.
Grapat's "loose parts" play or mandala pieces are an especially useful tool to practice mindfulness. These are small wooden pieces that are a joy to handle and look at. They can be arranged in patterns, sorted into piles or used for creative play.
Loose parts play is an incredible opportunity for slowing down, focusing on the elements at hand, and sinking into the present moment. This is mindful play that encourages focus and patience.
Sign. Me. Up!
Even better, engaging in mindful play together with your child is an excellent way to deepen your bond. I'm loving the hours I'm spending with my son, just sorting and arranging and rearranging these beautiful toys. I can feel him relaxing so deeply into these moments we have together. I'm truly grateful for these toys as a mother.
Mindfulness has become a hot topic for both kids and adults. Mindfulness helps calm down the reactive fight or flight response and to re-engage "higher thinking" part of our brains, so we are using the whole of our brain instead of just the reactive, primitive part. Mindfulness helps children understand their emotions and feelings, leading to higher emotional intelligence.
Mindfulness also develops focus and attention. Many of us, including children, spend a great deal of our time multi-tasking. This can have significant consequences for learning and behaviour since it builds neural pathways that aren't as effective.
Mindful play slows everything down and allows a child to focus, create, and enjoy simple beautiful moments.
Grapat toys are excellent educational toys for older toddlers and preschoolers. Sets with nins (peg people), mates (little cup things), rings and coins give endless options for sorting, colour matchings, stacking, counting and so on. Tonnes of brain building activities that toddlers naturally want to engage in. And as anyone with a toddler knows, they love putting the people in the cups, taking them out, putting them in, taking them out. All. Day. Long. The little sets of bowls are excellent for this too. These may be the most beautiful toys we've seen to execute these crucial developmental play concepts.
The family behind Grapat are deeply committed to earth friendly, sustainable practices. They’ve gone 100% plastic-free in their materials and packaging. They create toys that encourage a connection to natural materials and colours.
Grapat toys are made with love. Love for play in its purest form. Love for a child’s healthy development. Love for the Earth. Love for taking things slow. Join the movement of people saying "yes" to slowing down and savouring life's beautiful moments.
Toys are a child's tools. Choose wildly inspiring tools.
See our full Grapat Collection and fall in love with colour!