How to Play with Grapat Lola: 25 Fantastic Play Ideas
The first time I laid eyes on the Lola set, I was mesmerized. It is wonderful. The wood, the simple shapes, and the vibrant colors are lovely. It’s beautiful to the eyes and fantastic to the touch. We had been playing with Grapat toys and loose parts for some time, and we couldn’t wait to explore all the possibilities Lola offered. The Grapat Lola is a fabulous open-ended toy that encourages your children’s creativity and imagination. It is a brilliant invitation to countless hours of play for all ages.
If you are not very familiar with open-ended play, you may probably ask, “what do you do with this?” (You are not alone, my mother asked me the same thing 😉 ). You can do so many things! Open-ended toys don’t do much by themselves; they are a resource to let our imaginations fly. It helps children find creative ways to interact with them, and you will be surprised at what they come up with for sure.
Joguines Grapat, or Grapat Wooden Toys, come from a town in the Pyrenean mountains of Catalunya (Spain). It is a family project that came to be when the founders decided to leave the city to bring up their children in a more natural environment. They were inspired by their daughter’s play when given the freedom to play with her natural everyday surroundings, and this was how Grapat toys were born.
They believe that when the toy is simple and comes without instructions, it encourages children to use their imaginations and develop more complex and adventurous activities with it. The less a toy does, the more a child does—pure open-ended play. You can learn more about them on their website.
Grapat toys are all handmade and made with care and love. Almost all materials are sourced locally and subject to nature, making each piece unique. They are doing a fantastic job and also being completely plastic-free. These beautiful creations are conquering hearts all around the world, and we are not surprised. They are magical!
About Grapat Lola
The Lola set by Grapat is a set of 72 pieces, a combination of tubes with little people – the Lolas- that nest into each other in 12 colors of the rainbow. When you open the box, you find this magnificent setup of cylinders in 6×6, all organized as the rainbow.
When you take them out, you see that each color has these six pieces:
- One tube
- One half-tube (tube with bottom)
- One solid-tube / cylinder
- One large Lola
- One medium Lola
- One small Lola
It is recommended for children over three years old because the small and medium Lolas are small parts that could be a choking hazard.
If you take out those small parts and keep them away, younger children could use the big Lolas and tubes to play earlier.
Lola was released in 2020, and it has been a sensation ever since. You can find it regularly on Instagram and Pinterest. It is a beautiful and unique toy for children and grownups alike.
How to play with Grapat Lola?
The first time, I just laid out the box in the middle of the living room floor so my children would find it, and I just let them interact with it. You’ll probably be surprised – because they will possibly come up with an idea that you would not have thought of ever. But, that is the beauty of open-ended toys.
And if they need a little nudge to get their imagination flying, show them pictures of other ways other children have come up with playing with it. I’m listing some of the ideas we’ve come up with playing so far, in case they can inspire you.
1 – Stacking
Stacking was my daughter’s first instinct. So she took out the tubes and cylinders and created this wall. You can stack them side by side as towers, like a wall, just the cylinders, just the Lolas, you can combine them, and even try to make the tallest tower.
Stacking is great for hand-eye coordination, precision, and concentration. It is great to introduce it for babies who can sit straight by themselves and maybe stack one tube on top of another.
2 – Treasure basket – 9-18 months
Treasure baskets are fantastic discovery invitations for young children from when they can sit by themselves until around 18 months old. They are for heuristic play, which encourages babies and children to discover and interact with everyday objects and learn through them.
You could add the tubes and large Lolas inside, by themselves or combined with other loose parts and objects.
Check out other Grapat loose parts that you can put inside your treasure basket in this post here.
3 – In & out
My son’s intuitive way of using the Lola set was to place the Lolas inside and outside the tubes. Stacking the different sizes inside the tube and realizing that some would peek from inside if you added 2 Lolas or more inside.
4 – Through the tubes
Making objects go through the tubes is also a fun activity for them. It will help them work fine motor skills, concentration, and precision. You can make anything go through the tubes: sticks, spoons, scarves, necklaces, string, honey sticks, pipe cleaners,… you name it!
5 – Color match scarves and tubes
If you have some color scarves, place them in a pile and ask them to pick the scarf and match it with the right tube. They can even try to get the scarf inside the tube and pull it from the other side.
6 – Matching colors
The twelve colors that come in the set are vibrant and so lovely. You can play in many ways with them. You can use them to color sort with other toys and parts, for example, in a tinker tray or on color bases (I used the Grimm’s semicircles here).
7 – Color theory – Primary and secondary colors
It is also fun to show primary colors and what colors they create if they mix them. You can either go with red or magenta and yellow and blue. What color do you get if you combine these two colors? You can place them in a line or create the color triangle or the star.
8 – Rainbow matching
You can try to match the Lola’s with the Grimm’s rainbow. It’s almost a perfect match, but Lola has an extra orange (light orange) that doesn’t fit with the rainbow, and the rainbow center doesn’t have a matching color for Lola. Finally, although the darker green in Lola doesn’t perfectly match, I’ve used it against the blue-green.
9 – Sort small / medium / large
The Lolas are great to work the concept of size. Since you have small, medium, and large of each color, you can set up different activities for this. For example, have them sort all the Lolas into different sizes or arrange the characters from large to small.
10 – Puzzle – putting pieces into their matching shape
Take a box and cut some holes of the different sizes of the tubes and Lolas. Then, have them fit them through the correct size hole. You could even color the hole’s border and ask them to match the shape and the color.
11 – Threading
Threading is an excellent activity for children. It helps them develop fine motor skills that will be essential to draw, write, tie shoelaces, do buttons, and more. It also helps to build concentration and develop eye-hand coordination skills.
If getting the string through the tube is too hard, you might want to use a wooden “needle.” I’ve seen Grimm’s has one, but I created one with a pipe cleaner since we do not have one. It made it easier for his tiny hands.
12 – Threaded shapes
Once the tubes are threaded, you can also create shapes with them. For example, we made the circle, the square, the triangle, and the heart.
13 – Spinning and rolling
Another fun way to play with them is to see the parts in movement. For example, make them roll on the floor or spin them around. From our experience, the tubes are the ones that spin for longer, probably because they weigh less.
14 – Mandalas
We like creating Mandalas with loose wooden parts at home, and they are lovely with the Lola set. The ones we’ve made are not entirely symmetrical as we’ve gone with a colorful rainbow approach, but you can create them symmetrical if you like.
While creating Mandalas, we focus on detail, develop patterns, exercise fine motor skills, and create beautiful designs that we enjoy making together. They are not meant to last. Once we are done, we take the beauty in and take it apart to start creating something new.
We’ve enjoyed creating these with the Grapat Mandala pieces in the past, and if you’d like to check out more ideas and designs with the Mandala parts, you can have a look in this post.
15 – Flatlay designs
It’s fun to use the tubes in flat designs and patterns, just by themselves or combining with other loose parts.
16 – Small world play dolls
The Lolas are fantastic to play as families and have them walk around our small world sets. They look great! We really enjoy having them cross-over our waytoplay road set-ups.
17 – Dress up
The Lolas are cute by themselves, but why not dress them up? My daughter and I have a different view of how the Lolas stand. I believe they are all little but wear different size colorful hats. She thinks they are different heights and the colors are their bodies.
Here are just some ideas made from paper, rubber bands, and a pipe cleaner.
18 – Build a city & houses
Why not use the tubes as houses or the base of buildings? Add some loose parts on top as the roof, and you can even have one or two Lolas sleeping inside 😉.
19 – Constructions
The tubes are great pillars for all kinds of constructions. In our experience, it was best to start with the solid tubes at the bottom to have less weight at the top, but you can play any way you like. For example, you can combine them with Grimm’s rainbow, the semicircles, wooden planks, blocks, or even books!
20 – Binoculars
If you are ready to go on an adventure, be sure to take some binoculars! Create them by joining two tubes with a couple of hairbands, and that is it! Easy, quick, and fun! Now we are ready for adventure!
21 – Sensory tray
Playing with rice and the Tubes is excellent. Your child can scoop rice with it, have rice going through it, hide the Lola’s underneath it. Just throw them in and see what they come up with.
22 – Stamping on sand
A fun way to play with kinetic sand is to stamp on it and see the marks. You can make different size circles with the tubes and Lolas, and you can also use them as rollers.
23 – ABC
Create the letters of the alphabet by using the tubes or the Lolas!
24 – Counting games
You can use the different pieces for counting or for creating the numbers on a flat surface. Create the number with the tubes and have them fill the plate with as many Lolas as the number says, or do it the other way around.
25 – Rockets!
You can make rockets with the tubes! Just add 3 or 4 medium clothes pegs at the bottom and add a cone, egg, or something on top, and here you have a spacecraft that will take you to the moon and back!
Where can you buy Lola?
If you want to buy Grapat Lola, you will likely find the set in a toy shop where you can discover open-ended toys or Waldorf and Montessori-style toy stores. Probably in the biggest city near you, you might have some that you can go in and explore. But, be careful, as you will probably fall in love with many other things in there 😅.
If you don’t have a store like that nearby, there are other options. Lucky for us, there are many online stores where you’ll find them. Unfortunately, you won’t be able to find it on Amazon. But I am sharing other web pages I bought from while living in the UK and Spain (some are local, but others have international deliveries). Additionally, although I haven’t been there, I will recommend Australian and US stores based on their IG and IG accounts of people living there (considering their comments and opinions).
Store with International deliveries
- Babipur.co.uk – You’ll even find a whole Grapat section on their site, and they deliver worldwide. Their customer service is fantastic.
- Oskar’s Wooden Ark – They are from Australia, but they also provide international shipping to selected countries (New Zealand; United States; Canada, Singapore & South Korea) using Australia Post.
Store with delivery in the UK
- Babipur – of course, you have Babipur. They are from the UK, and you’ll find Lola here as well.
Stores with delivery in Spain and Portugal
- Jugar i jugar – Their toy portfolio is beautiful. It’s been my favorite option lately if you are in Spain. Their customer service is excellent. If you purchase before 2 pm, you get your delivery the next day.
Why I think Grapat Lola is a fantastic toy
The Lola set is a fabulous open-ended toy. It invites you to use your imagination and practice creative thinking. It is not cheap but totally worth it. You’ve been able to see all the ways we’ve come up with playing with it so far, and I am sure we’ve only scratched the surface. We’ll have more ideas in the future for sure. But, they are so unique that they spark curiosity and invite you to touch it and play with it.
I still have it all placed in the box on the first day. We play with it and put it back, and it gives me a calm feeling. We’ve had fun together as a family and by ourselves. I think it is a magical toy because it has endless possibilities, develops creativity, and we can build happy memories around it as a family.