Child’s play is hard work. When done right, a single play session can stimulate the senses, stir creativity, and build perseverance. It is through play that children learn to navigate the world around them. playhao began as parents wanting the best for their children - that meant providing toys that could facilitate the highest level of quality play. Over the years we’ve always carried toys we believe in, and the latest addition to our repertoire is no different.
GRAPAT is a family-run company from the Pyrenees mountains of Catalunya in Spain. Every piece is crafted from the wood of beech or birch trees in sustainable forests and stained with non-toxic water-based dyes. The softness of these dyes brings out the natural integrity of wood instead of muting it the way heavy thick paint might. They allow human hands to come into contact with the wood even through the most vibrant colours, thus interacting with a material none other can replace.
Every spiral marking or dark stripe embodies the uniqueness of each piece - there are no mass-made factory processes here. Wooden toys like GRAPAT present an organic starting point for parent and child alike to learn about the qualities of natural wood.
Being parents ourselves, we’ve found that GRAPAT has the traits of a toy we’d love to get our hands on. It adds to small world creation, allows for colour sorting and storing, posting, story creation and a myriad of other play ideas. Its designs are duly uncomplicated; behind the simplicity of each GRAPAT toy is the heart for maximum child-led play.
The simpler the material, the more complex their play can be. GRAPAT, then, fits the bill if you’re searching for toys that adhere to the Montessori or Waldorf pedagogies. In the same vein, the Theory of Loose Parts, proposed by architect Simon Nicholson in the 1970’s, teaches that loose bits in the environment around us empower creativity and innovation. GRAPAT’s aptly named “Loose Parts" are able to do precisely that. They’re colourful, portable, and versatile. There’s hardly any limit to their use. When placed in the little hands of a child, these seemingly one dimensional pieces become the leading characters in a world of their own.
GRAPAT toys are also lightweight, making them travel-friendly and a super distraction at your next family dinner out (imagine: no screens, a happy child, and a hot meal for you).
Not only does GRAPAT encourage free play, it’s also socially and environmentally conscious. It keeps its collaborations close to Catalunya, thereby allowing it to maintain the working conditions of its employees. Many of these collaborators are foundations that serve those with mental disabilities. The wood it uses is sourced from forests that are conscientiously managed to balance ecological, economical and socio-cultural conservation efforts. The cloth bags that come with some GRAPAT products - like the Nins, Rings & Coins - are repurposed from the discarded material of big companies. As of 2019, GRAPAT has eliminated all plastic from it’s packaging. The brown paper-inspired aesthetic of each GRAPAT set is friendly both to the environment and your Instagram page.
This toy is a real special one. Called the Perpetual Calendar, it follows the Czechoslovakian folk tale of the Twelve Brothers, each of whom represent the twelve months. A circular progression of the months enables the child to view time as at once linear and cyclical. The various hues of the nins (peg dolls) also correspond to the seasons:
- December, January, February: Blue for Winter
- March, April, May: Green for Spring
- June, July, August: Red for Summer
- September, October, November: Purple for Fall
In true Waldorf fashion, this calendar encourages parent and child to return to it everyday so a pattern can be formed to teach the abstract concept of time. We love how it incorporates the fantastical elements of a folk-tale while being an educational tool - there are just so many learning opportunities! It could inspire a conversation about different countries, cultures, weather climates - it may even lead to a conversation about how a whole country could disappear (this is a Czechoslovakian story after all).
playhao carries a number of GRAPAT products. While the Mandala series is available for pre-order, the following are currently sold in-store:
If you’d like to purchase GRAPAT as a gift for a loved one, click here to find out more about the products we offer. Alternatively, if you’d like to be gifted some, click here to create a registry with us at playhao.
Pictures from www.grapat.eu