+50 Stapelstein Play Ideas & Why We Love It

the fairy glitch mother stapelstein | the fairy glitch mother

Do you know what Stapelstein are? Until a year ago, I had never seen them, but for the past year, they have been popping up on my Instagram feed and everywhere open-ended toy-related online. Their vibrant colors and intriguing designs piqued my curiosity, sparking my interest in a world where simplicity meets boundless potential. I was determined to find out more, and as luck would have it, we were gifted a complete set to explore during the summer months. Little did I know that these stepping stones (as their name suggests in German) would become the source of endless joy and creativity in our home. We are loving them.

In this blog post, we’ll dive into the fascinating world of Stapelstein. Diving into their cool design, incredible versatility, and the fascinating story behind them. I really hope you enjoy this blog post and that it ignites a bunch of fresh ideas for fun activities you can try out with them at home! 

In this post:

*Disclosure: I only recommend products I would use myself, and all opinions expressed here are our own. This post may contain affiliate links that at no additional cost to you, when you buy through the links, we may earn a small commission. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Thanks!

Our story with Stapelstein

As I mentioned, Stapelstein has been popping up on my social feed nonstop for over the past year. I would see children stepping on them, sitting on them, using them as bowls at the end of ball runs, and so much more. We were lucky to be gifted Stapelstein Originals, Boards, and the Insides for a photography project, and we’ve been able to play and experiment with them since the beginning of summer. It has been amazing! My children have loved them. They are an incredible resource to have around. It has sparked many activities, games, ideas, and active play. And it has been fun for children and adults alike. It’s something you can only say about some toys.

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Some weeks ago, I was at the Maison & Objet 2023 Paris Trade Show and was lucky to meet with the Stapelstein team and Stephan, the creator of Stapelstein. He was kind enough to dedicate some time to explain to me the idea behind it, and there was much more thought put into it than I had anticipated. 

Thank you, Stephan, for such an inspiring and enlightening chat. I learned so much!

Let me share with you what he shared with me:

The idea behind Stapelstein

Even though we have been using Stapelstein as a toy at home, its origins were utterly different. It was initially thought to be a stool… not a traditional stool, but a stool that promoted movement. From an early age, Stephan had seen firsthand how the conventional school environment trains us to be still while many of our bodies thrive and concentrate with movement. This is true for most human beings, especially those with disabilities.

So, as his final project at university, he developed the Stapelstein originals and later paired them with the board, giving us such an amazing and unique product. (I am writing and sitting on it right now, which is excellent.) The Insides were launched in 2023, adding so much to the whole family.

The philosophy behind Inside

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The Inside set is the evolution to the core of the philosophical idea that made Stapelstein come to life. It consists of 3 pieces that fit into an original Stapelstein. The center has a small round hole that could fit a large marble, but it comes empty for a purpose: it represents the place where children’s creativity resides. It’s the place for the seed of their creativity, their openness, at the very center, and it is the most important part. It’s where you can find the idea of the child. The seed of play, and it grows outward and opens like a flower. 

The waves on the edges represent the sea. As you can see, there are many natural elements in the design. The waves also stand for “dynamism”, up & down, in a very smooth way. But it can also be a wild sea if you place the insides at different angles instead of perfectly flat. The cool colors represent better the stormy sea.

The product is complete if you really combine the two waves – both insides of the same size. You can connect them, and you can play with the connection (as you could do with the Original), but it is a free connection, as they do not click and stay. It’s a temporary connection, just like a kiss. They are together for a moment, and the next they are their own individuals. The other benefit of the wave is that it makes it easier to separate the originals when they are stacked together. 

Getting a bit nerdy about the design, there is a lot of color theory behind the choice of colors in the sets. Each set has 6 colors inspired by the Bauhaus movement, with three primary and three secondary colors. You can sort the insides with all the primary nested inside each other – red, blue, and yellow – and the secondary nested – green, orange and purple. You can also be sorted into cool and warm colors as well, each category nested within each other. The two insides that coincide in size, are always the complimentary colours: yellow with purple, blue with orange, and red with green.

stapelstein insides elipsis | the fairy glitch mother

The roundest shape is the combination of the two smallest shapes, yellow and purple, and it evolves to a more elliptical shape as the pieces grow. The very center leaves the space for a perfect sphere that represents the idea of the child. It’s also nice to see the evolution of volume between the three different elements of the Inside.

Stapelstein Colors

Stapelstein comes in two main colour ranges: rainbow and pastel. They are both gorgeous and lovely. If I had to choose one, I think I might go for the Rainbow range. The colours are nice and bright, but are not too loud. They look nice everywhere inside our home. The pastels are nice too, and although I have a soft spot for magnetic tiles in pastel colours (because the rainbow range is too loud for my taste), this doesn’t happen with the Stapelsteins.

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You can’t go wrong either way. They are lovely. Even combined, they look great together.

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Stapelstein also has launched every once in a while different color originals and bases. Some are double-colored, and others are special editions. Keep an eye out for these beauties. They make for wonderful additions to your collection and help expand play.

What can you do with Stapelstein? Stapelstein play ideas

There are so many things that can be done with the Stapelsteins. Let me list a few of our favorites:

  • Use them as stepping stones. This might be the most obvious use, and it is great. It helps with gross motor skills, balance, and movement. Use them indoors and outdoors.

  • Use them as stools: You can sit on them and place them at your height. A small child will start with one or two originals, and you can go up. If you pair it with the balance board, you can then use it as a stool that allows you to move. This is ideal for fidgety children and adults who have trouble staying still; why should they if their natural instinct is to move?

  • Stack them. It’s one of my favorite things to do with any toy that comes into the house. Stacking is such a fun activity. It helps to slow down, practice patience, fine motor skills, balance, problem-solving, and resilience (they will fall down, and you’ll have to keep trying until you get it). Plus, it is fun to create big sculptures together as a family. Stack them by themselves or add some other toys in the mix. You can see some ideas below with Oppi Piks and Stix, they combine perfectly.

  • Water play. One of the best things about Stapelsteins is that they can get wet. You can use them in the bath, at the water table, in the garden, at the beach, or at the pool. You can use them anywhere. Use them to pour water from one to another. Let them float and hit them to see the different sounds they make. Use them as little floating supports inside a pool (this should be done with adult supervision and with children that know how to swim – do not use them by themselves if the child does not know how to swim). Push them underwater and see what happens! We’ve also used them to create a car wash for our toy cars… how cool is that?!

  • Play with sound. Take a stick or a ball and hit them to see the sounds they make. The hollow space inside them allows you to play them a bit like drums. The different sizes (original and insides) make different sounds. Put objects underneath and see if the sound changes. It is such a fun thing to do and to experiment with our senses.

  • Colour sorting and color theory. You can use the Originals as bowls for color sorting activities. They are great for when your little ones are learning their colours. As I mentioned earlier, there is a logic to why each Inside has a specific color. Go up a notch and explain color theory to your little ones with them.

  • Construction and imaginative play. The Stapelsteins are fantastic for building small worlds. They can be used as roofs of buildings, pools or lakes, mountains, and so many other elements in small world play.

  • Symbolic and Role-playing. They are also ideal for role-playing and promoting their imagination. They can be used as beds for dolls, cauldrons for brewing potions, bowls to cook and serve food, and anything they can come up with.
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  • Target games. Place them away and try to throw balls or small bean bags into them. Each color can have a specific number of points, and let’s see who wins! It’s a fun way to practice sums and numbers while having fun as a family.

  • Circuits. Use them as activity circuits or courses indoors or outdoors. Pair them with other toys so they can be entertained and practice different skills as they go through the activity course. Use Bilibos, Wobbel Boards, Pikler Triangle and ramp, hoops, waytoplay roads, and much more!

  • Practicing sports. Use them when practicing sports. My daughter is into football (soccer), and she uses them for dribbling and control exercises, to practice her kicking aim, to mark from where she should kick, and more. But you could find similar ideas to do with any sports your children practice. It is a substitute for a cone or markers. If you have some Stapelsteins, why not use them like this as well?

  • Create flat-lays and designs. I just love doing this. You can create flowers, patterns, and animals so easily with them. They are wonderful play invitations or provocations that can spark more creativity and fun.
  • Bowls at the end of ball runs. After creating an elaborate structure or course, where will the ball end? In a Stapelstein.

  • Podium. Use it as a podium!
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  • Hat & shield. One of my children’s first instincts was to put it on their head as a hat, or even imagine it was a helmet! And the board is the perfect shield!

  • Frisbee. Due to it’s lightness and shape it makes a great frisbee. We loved throwing it in the pool this summer or around the house (but be careful! You wouldn’t want to hit any delicate things around!)
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  • Spinning it. Why not spin it! And it has a nice curve to it that makes it spin very nicely. Let’s see whose spins the longest!

  • Snack bowl. I wouldn’t do this on a regular occasion, but it has been handy on car trips when the children were hungry and I forgot to pack some bowls or Tupperware. It was very useful so they could have their breadsticks.
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Are Stapelstein worth it?

When considering the purchase of play equipment for children, one of the key questions that often arises is whether the investment is worth it. In the case of Stapelstein, these versatile and open-play items offer a range of benefits that can make them a valuable addition to any play space. Let’s explore why Stapelstein are worth considering:

  • Versatility and Creativity

Stapelstein are designed to encourage imaginative play and creativity. Their stackable nature allows children to build, construct, and create different combinations, and also be used in many ways in imaginative play. This versatility means that Stapelstein can engage children for extended periods, fostering creativity and problem-solving skills. Parents and educators often find that the endless possibilities offered by Stapelstein justify the investment in terms of long-lasting entertainment and educational value.

  • Physical Development

Physical activity is crucial for children’s development, and Stapelstein promotes active play. These lightweight pieces of equipment can be easily moved, stacked, and balanced, encouraging kids to use their bodies and develop gross motor skills. This physical engagement not only contributes to their overall well-being but also aids in coordination and balance development.

  • Durability

Investing in play equipment that can withstand the test of time is essential. Stapelsteins are known for their durability, thanks to their high-quality polyethylene plastic construction. They can endure years of active play and even outdoor use without losing their structural integrity or vibrant colors. This longevity means that the initial investment pays off over time as Stapelstein continues to provide entertainment and educational value for growing children. A

  • Safety and Peace of Mind

Stapelstein is designed with children’s safety in mind. Their rounded edges and corners minimize the risk of injury during play, providing peace of mind to parents and caregivers. Knowing that children can safely explore and interact with these play items adds to their overall worth.

The decision of whether Stapelstein is worth it ultimately depends on your priorities and the specific needs of the children in your care. However, their versatility, contribution to physical development, durability, and safety features make them a valuable investment for many families, schools, and childcare centers. When considering the long-term benefits they offer in terms of entertainment, education, and well-being, Stapelstein can indeed be a worthwhile addition to any play environment.

What age is Stapelstein indicated for?

One of the great features of Stapelstein is its versatility, which allows children of various ages to enjoy and benefit from them. These dynamic play items are suitable for a broad age range, making them a versatile choice for play spaces, schools, and homes. What I find fantastic is that as an open-ended toy or resource, it will grow with your children, and its uses will evolve over time.

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1. Toddlers and Preschoolers: Stapelstein can be introduced to children as young as toddlers and preschoolers. At this age, they can explore bright colors, practice basic stacking skills, and develop their hand-eye coordination. Parents and caregivers can supervise and guide them during play, ensuring a safe and enjoyable experience. They can even sit on them as low stools, with one or two originals stacked and adding more levels as they grow taller. They can be used for color sorting, to create elements of small world play, in waterplay, and so much more.

2. Elementary School Age: Stapelstein shines as children progress into elementary school. At this stage, kids can engage in more complex stacking and balancing activities, encouraging critical thinking and problem-solving skills. They can create imaginative structures, use Stapelstein in games, and even incorporate them into educational activities. Again, using them as stools to encourage core development and movement while staying still in one place can be very beneficial.

3. Middle and High School Age: While Stapelstein may seem like toys primarily designed for younger children, they remain relevant as children grow. Older kids and teenagers can use Stapelstein for fitness and balance exercises, making them a valuable addition to physical education classes or home workouts. The adaptable nature of Stapelstein makes them appealing to a wide age range.

4. Adults: It’s worth noting that Stapelstein isn’t limited to children alone. Adults can also incorporate these versatile pieces into their fitness routines, yoga practice, or as creative seating options. Their durability and environmentally friendly design make them an appealing choice for eco-conscious adults.

Stapelstein offers something for everyone, from toddlers to adults. Their adaptability and ability to be used by various age groups make them a valuable investment in play, fitness, and creativity for families and schools alike.

What are Stapelstein made of?

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Stapelstein has gained popularity for its beauty, originality, and durability (which makes it more sustainable than one-time-use toys as they’ll be around for a long time). They are designed to withstand the rigors of play while being environmentally friendly. So, what are Stapelstein made of? Let’s explore the materials that make up these captivating, stackable, and colorful pieces of play equipment.

  • High-Quality Polyethylene Plastic

The Stapelstein Original, Board, and Inside elements are crafted from a material known as EPP, or Expanded Polypropylene. This material offers several advantages. It is 100% recyclable and does not contain any blowing agents, plasticizers, or additives. Notably, the mint and black elements also incorporate a proportion of recycled material. This commitment to environmentally responsible materials ensures that while enjoying Stapelstein, you are also contributing to sustainable practices.

  • Food-Grade Dyes

Stapelstein’s vibrant colors are achieved through the use of food-grade dyes. This ensures that the dyes are non-toxic and safe for children to interact with. These dyes are also resistant to fading, which means that the Stapelstein will maintain their bright and attractive appearance even after extended use and exposure to sunlight.

  • Stackable and Lightweight Design

Stapelstein’s design is intentionally lightweight, making them easy for children to handle and stack. This lightweight design is achieved without compromising the strength and durability of the material, allowing kids to build and create to their heart’s content. It also encourages them to engage in physical activity as they move and arrange the pieces.

  • Rounded Edges and Safety

Safety is a top priority when it comes to children’s play equipment. Stapelstein features rounded edges and corners to minimize the risk of injury during play. This design choice ensures children can explore their creativity and physical abilities in a safe and supervised environment.

IMPORTANT: While durable, it must also be treated with care. If children stab or poke it with sharp objects, it will leave a hole or a dent. It reminds me of cork in a way. But they can stand on it, jump from one to the other, throw it… we’ve played roughly, and ours are ok. But keep this in mind: it is not solid plastic, and you can damage it if you do not treat it correctly and try to stick something in it. It is also a bit porous, so be careful with mud and filthy shoes; they may get stained when you step on them. To clean them, use a soft brush or damp cloth gently. Ours are a bit stained after half a year of playing with them, but it’s ok – they have been used and loved.

How do you store them?

I get asked this question often, and the response is quite simple, we just have them stacked. The stack moves around the house and one day it may be in the playroom, the next in the living room, the next in the children’s bedroom… you never know. The insides I do tend to have them in a closet or on shelves, both open or stacked. Here you have a few examples of my own or of some friends of how they have been stored in our homes.

And I do have a big Ikea bag or the Stapelstein bag to take them out and about. They are bulky, but not heavy at all, and they are great at the beach or to practice football and sports outdoors or at school. Really fun!

Where to buy Stapelsteins?

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You most likely will find the Stapelsteins in online shops and stores where they promote open-ended toys. I have not seen it in any physical store in Barcelona (where we live), so we can only get them online.

When buying from Europe

The place where you’ll find everything they have is on their own original website: https://stapelstein.de/en/ . When writing this article (December 2023), they only delivered within the EU and Switzerland, and orders above 100€ are free of shipping costs.

Here are their different products:

Other retailers also offer it in their toy range. So check out if it is available in your favorite stores. In Germany and the Netherlands, it is more possible to find it in physical stores, so go check them out if you can. You’ll be surprised.

When buying from the US & Canada

In 2023, Stapelstein crossed the pond and is also now available in the US & Canada. You must purchase from their international website https://stapelstein.com/ . Shipping conditions and delivery costs are specified on their website.

Stapelstein: Stepping Stones to Learning, Creativity, and Play

Stapelstein stands out as a beacon of simplicity and creativity in a world filled with distractions. These simple play elements are not just toys but tools for learning, imagination, and active play. I enjoy using it as a stool when the children are at school and not playing with them. They can inspire and spark many different activities in your children; and they are lovely to have around.

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I’m always surprised at how attention-grabbing they are. Both children and adults alike ask about them when they enter our home and are surprised by their possibilities. We’ve just grown used to having them all over. Some may not think they are for everyone, but I beg to differ. They have so much to offer, and they will spark creativity and have different uses for many occasions. (My children just decorated our Christmas tree using them as stools – they came up with it by themselves).

I love how their “Inside” set symbolizes the heart of creativity, where ideas flourish like waves of exploration. It is a toy or resource where the idea of the child is highly valued and where there is a place for it. It is versatile, open, active, and creative. I’m so happy we have them at home and expect to have them around for a very long time.

I hope you have found this helpful, and if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact me or write a DM on Instagram. Happy to help!

Happy playing & creating!

ways to play with bilibo | the fairy glitch mother

Updated on: March 8, 2024

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