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10 Activities with Nins Carla

The Grapat Nins Carla Set is one of the most versatile open-ended toys available. The 120 piece set is made up of 12 Nins (the little people figurines), 36 coins, and 72 rings in 12 rainbow colours. If 120 pieces seems like too much, the 60 Nins, Rings and Coins set is a good place to start.

Children inherently know how to play with loose parts and it is enough just to give them the pieces and let their imagination take over - often what they dream up is beyond what the adult imagination can conceive. However, offering an invitation to play can spur on heightened creativity and offer opportunities to target specific areas or learning objectives such as colour sorting, fine motor skills, or turn taking. 


1. Dangle rings from a baby gym

Tie four or five rings from individual ribbons and secure to the bar of a baby gym. The rings sway gently in the breeze offering visual stimulation to the young baby. As they get a bit older, string a larger selection of rings on one piece of ribbon and tie both ends to the cross bar of the baby play frame.  The rings make a lovely clacking sound as the wood knocks together and provides an early introduction to cause and effect. 

2. Posting Activity

This activity requires a little bit of prep but is well worth the effort. Cut a slot in the box the Grapat comes in or in the lid of a formula tin or Pringles tube for posting the rings and coins through. Or use a sturdy shoebox and use wet wipe lids to create lids for the slots. The flip-open lids add an additional skill challenge to the activity. You can vary the difficulty level of this activity by changing the posting requirements. For example:

  • post any colour ring or coin
  • stick numbers on the lids and post the corresponding number of rings or coins
  • stick a coloured label or sticker on the lid indicating the required colour to be posted
  • use small tongs to pick up and post the rings or coins

3. Hanging or sorting rings onto a mug tree

This is a simple yet fun activity for young toddlers. Allow them to "decorate" a mug tree by selecting rings and hanging them on the "branches" of the tree/stand. Or you can increase the challenge for older toddlers by sticking coloured stickers on the branches indicating what colour to hang on each branch.

4. Colour/counting game

Create a path with the coins and rings, and move the Nins down the path on the roll of a dice. For younger kids use a colour dice, older children can use a regular number dice. We add toy wooden cars in colours that correspond to the Nins at the end of each route for the Nins to reach.

5. Gross motor colour sorting with Connetix

We use boxes made from Connetix magnetic tiles to create coloured receptacles to sort the coloured pieces into. Put a bowl of rings and coins in the centre and place the Connetix boxes equals spaced in a circle approximately a meter from the bowl. Have your child select a ring and then move off to the corresponding coloured Connetix box. This activity requires them to move their whole body in order to sort the pieces out. 

6. Threading with playsilks or a cardboard tube

Thread a playsilk through a number of rings for babies and young toddlers to pull through. Older toddlers enjoy the challenge of threading the playsilk through the rings themselves. A less challenging version of this activity, but one that is a great hit is to let your child slot the rings onto a cardboard inner tube. 

7. Stick rings and coins onto contact paper

Tape a large piece of contact, sticky side out, to a wall and allow the kids to stick the coins and rings to the contact. For young kids simply sticking the pieces on and pulling them off again is fun enough. Older children might enjoy creating a picture with the pieces or continuing a pattern that you have initiated for more of a challenge. 

8. Muffin tin fine motor activity

Pop rings, coins, and Nins into the various compartments of a muffin tin and stretch elastic bands length and width ways across the openings to create little barriers to the pieces. Let young toddlers figure out how to retrieve the items, increase the challenge for older kids by limiting them to using only one hand, their non-dominant hand, or tongs. 

9. Dress up the Nins 

Take a little time with your child and create little outfits for the Nins out of fabric, felt, or coloured paper. Try making party hats, capes, bunny ears, or scarves. Set them up in a small world scenario and watch your child's imagination do the rest. 


 10. Make mandalas

Making mandalas is a wonderful activity that encourages mindfulness. We can all do with some peace and quiet at times. The great thing about the Grapat Nins Carla set is that with 120 pieces you can make an awesome piece of art with only one set. There are some amazing pieces floating around on Instagram and Pinterest. Once you’re (and/or your child) is hooked on this calming activity I do recommend expanding with the range of different Grapat Mandala pieces. The Rainbow Eggs are a favourite in our home. 


I hope this blog post has helped with some ideas and inspiration on how to play with this set and either get you started or inspire more play!


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