When we decided to switch and totally commit to Montessori pedagogy, we also decided to change our way to play. We use the Montessori materials to work and we make things clear for our daughters that they are not toys but we also wanted to keep a specific space at home for free play. But what about the toys we wanted ?
It is quite an important question if you want to settle a Montessori environment at home. You do not need Montessori materials but you might be willing to use Montessori inspired toys, but what to choose?
Clearly, we wanted some toys that will enhance the teaching and be in the continuity with the Montessori materials. One of the hallmarks of Montessori is the use of natural materials and colours that are not over stimulating. Natural materials are more beautiful and offer the child the understanding of the true weight of an object, helping them learn how much strength is needed to lift or move something. So through that lens, even if bright colours are not really Montessori but more Waldorf, for the playroom, we decided to go for wooden toys , colourful that will nurture and develop our daughters imagination. We wanted very colourful toys but simple to contrast with the materials we use in the classroom and that will offer open-ended play and help them explore, try new horizons. So little by little, we are changing our life and we are moving to something that have a more natural and instinctive approach.
Recently, I fell in love with a new toys brand coming from Spain: Grapat and this brand has just been introduced in the UK by Babipur.
Why this brand? This brand caught my eyes instantly. I fell in love with the simple designs of the toys with a rustic and rough look and a beautiful wood grain with earthy colours. The toys are Montessori and Waldorf inspired and are definitely in the extension of what we do with our girls.
Grapat is a small family project created by Casiana and Jordi. They decided to leave the city to leave in a rural environment and to be nearer to the nature. Their toys embrace their life philosophy and I was eager to understand the wonderful world they have created and what was behind Grapat and the Nins®.
I found a wonderful interview Casiana has given to a Spanish blogger and I thought I should share it and translate part of it as it was really interesting to read.
Casiana from Grapat says “Play is something sacred, just like a meditation and a magic moment which allows an inner and deeper introversion”. Casiana and Jordi worked hard to create a wonderful and lovely magical world. When you first see the Grapat univers, it is like if your spirit is white and once you inside this magical world, your spirit is now full of new nuances.
If you wonder what Grapat means, it simply means in Catalan “Bunch/handful”.Why the name Grapat? Casiana :”The choice of a name is a difficult thing when you are setting up a company. We spent hours arguing, submitting names to our friends… Then we realised that what was really important was the content, what we really do. And then, the name “Grapat” arose : for a year, while we were working with our first prototypes, all day, we had bunches of things in our hands, we talked about “handful” of pieces … It is a name that has a direct relation with our products. It contains so much nuances. When you think of a handful of something, you have in mind an idea of something small, something that fits in one hand, but also bulk and large quantities. Something that needs to be handled carefully, something you need to take care of. “
What is the inspiration behind Grapat toys? To this question, Casiana answers: “Our main inspiration is to see our children and other children play and create parallel worlds. Worlds governed by their own rules. We were looking for toys that will enhance free play, seeking a quality game inside of which creatures are allowed to transcend the object to give it a thousand and one forms, values and meanings. It inspires us daily to live with children, to see how the imperious need to play, almost more than to eat (in our case), leads them to play with just a stone … Play for Children is like an earthquake that can not be stopped, no matter how much the adults try it with all their strength, children will find a way to play using loose parts and unstructured materials and that is what marvel us every day and confirm that it is these kind of materials we want to continue proposing at Grapat .”
Extract of Jordina Cosata Blog post and translated from Catalan
So for all these reasons, we wanted some Grapat toys for our girls. It has been hard to decide which set to choose but I was sure for three items: the perpetual calendar , the sorting bowls and acorns and the spools set. Why? They are three of them perfect for our Montessori activities. I will write a detail review with each of this set and I hope it will help you see how you can use them. When we received our Grapat toys and they entered our house, we instantly found a magical world, full of colours.
To conclude this article: Come and see! Welcome to Grapat, Feliç joc!
All the Grapat Toys collection are available to buy in UK at Babipur.