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20 Things to do with Grapat Nins, Rings & Coins

20 Things to do with Grapat Nins, Rings & Coins

The ever creative and inspiring Lisa from has written another blog post for Oskar's Wooden Ark: 20 Things to do with Grapat Nins, Rings & Coins! We are blown away with all the ideas she has put together - a topic we wanted to publish a long time ago because often we get asked: What can you actually do with Grapat Loose Parts? All I see is some wooden peg dolls with some rings and coins! Well, that's exactly the beauty of our open ended toys. While they might have been used for sorting yesterday, they are being used in small world play today or in sensory play tomorrow. Open ended toys generally do not come with instructions but we would love to give you some inspiration on hand. Enjoy!

20 Things to do with Grapat Nins, Rings & Coins

The Grapat Nins Carla set is one of the most fantastic sets for open ended play available. Or at least, that’s my opinion. The set has 120 pieces and comes with 12 Nins, 72 Rings and 36 Coins in 12 rainbow colours. The nins are 6 cm tall and the coins and rings are 4.7cm. The set comes in a box and includes a cloth bag to store your pieces in. If you can't get hold of the Grapat Nins Carla set (it is very popular) you can think of getting the sets separately. Did you know that the two sets "Grapat Nins Rings & Coins Rainbow Colours" and the "Grapat Nins Rings & Coins Warm Colours" make one Grapat Nins Carla set too?

Often just giving the pieces to a child will be enough for them to decide on how to play with them. Their ability to come up with creative ideas is often much greater than ours. However, offering invitations to play can widen their horizon, it can create opportunities to enhance their play. These activities can also focus on a specific skill; colour sorting, fine motor skills, or taking turns…

Here is my personal list of the 20 favorite ways to play with Grapat Nins Carla in our home:

1. Sort them in colours and shapes

The most obvious activity! Put all the pieces in a big bowl of basket and let your child group them in colours. You can make this as easy or difficult as you want. The easiest version would be to make piles of specific colours or shapes.  A more difficult version is to ask for the colours to be sorted in the order of the rainbow, and the pieces stacked on top of each other etc.

2. Create patters with Grapat Rings and Coins

This activity is for slightly older children. Create a pattern and let them continue it on. Or create a pattern, cover it with a Sarah’s Silk and ask them to copy it from memory. A pattern can be just a straight line, using the coins and rings, or you can make a circle, or another shape to make it even harder.

3. Post Grapat Rings

20 Things to do withn Grapat Nins Rings Coins

This activity has been my son’s favourite activity for over a year. We still do this weekly (if not daily). The posting with the least amount of prep would be to cut some holes in the Grapat box it comes in. Or use a formula tin, or cereal box etc. However, if you have a little spare time on your hands, I highly recommend to make a ‘posting box’ with wet wipe lids and a sturdy (shoe)box. It will last much longer. Opening the lids is an additional skill added to the activity. And you can change the difficulty by changing the posting ‘requirements. For example:

  • Just open the lid and post any colour coin or ring
  • Stick numbers on the lids and post a corresponding number of rings/coins
  • Stick a coloured label/ dot sticker onto the lid and ask for a matching colour to be posted.

4. Stick Grapat Rings and Coins onto clear contact

Always a winner: Stick some clear contact with the sticky side facing out onto the wall with some painters tape. Show how to stick the pieces to the contact and off they go! For younger kids sticking them on and peeling them off would be enough fun. For older kids, you can make it more challenging to combine this activity with the pattern activity described in #2.

5. Use them in small word play

20 Things to do withn Grapat Nins Rings Coins

The nins are perfect for small world set ups. The little people are a great addition to some of the dollhouses and they are an amazing match with the drei Blaetter wooden bedroom furniture.  The rings and coins are often water, a path or food in our home. Our Ostheimer animals would be starving without a good old hay coin or two.

6. Introduce the concept of early numeracy with Grapat Rings and Coins

This is an awesome resource for home schoolers, or anyone who wants to introduce their child to early numeracy. You can count them, stack them, weigh them and introduce concepts such as more/less/higher/lower/heavier/lighter with minimal effort.  You can very easily introduce the ‘friends of ten’ concept and practise how to count dot patterns (think of dice layouts). If you google on ‘number talks pattern’. You will find an almost unlimited supply of verbal maths activities for the young child. I can probably write a separate blog on how to implement loose parts into maths activities, the possibilities are endless.

On a side note, I can also highly recommend the Treasures from Jennifer resources for everyone who is interested in more open ended, high quality timber maths resources! They are absolutely stunning and will last a lifetime.

7. Sjoel with Grapat Rings and Coins (a traditional Dutch game)

To play this game you need a smooth piece of timber of about 2 meters long. (or your floor, or dining table etc.) At the end of the 2 meters add four ‘gates’ with different points. We make this by cutting holes into the side of a shoebox. Originally the points are as followed: 2 - 3 - 4 - 1 but you can use any numbers. (it’s a great way to practise step counting or times tables). Each player gets 30 coins and tries to slide them through the gates. After having used all their coins they calculate their points. The winner is the one with the highest points.

8. Cook with Grapat Rings and Coins

20 Things to do withn Grapat Nins Rings Coins

We often add our Carla set to our play kitchen. The nins are lollies, ice-cream or cookies. The rings are most often spaghetti and the coins have been so many different dishes I can’t remember. No play kitchen in your home? Don’t worry, just offer some pots and pans and a couple of spoons and let them be! The Grapat Nins Carla set is a great open-ended resource to add to the Erzi cooking range!

9. Threading Grapat Rings

20 Things to do withn Grapat Nins Rings Coins

This is a fantastic fine motor activity. The only thing you need is the rings and a Sarah's Silk Playsilk (or a thin scarf). Show them how to thread the rings onto the silks and create a beautiful necklace! Want to make it more difficult? Use ribbon instead of a scarf. Or combine it again with the pattern making activity. Want to make it easier? Add a (chop)stick to the scarf to make the treading easier.

10. Stack the Rings and Coins

Stacking? Is it even worth mentioning this as a separate activity? Oh yes! Because you can come up with so many different ways to stack! Who can stack all the 36 coins? Who can stack all coins and rings? Who can stack the highest within one minute? Who can stack the highest with their wrong hand? What about stacking in a specific pattern, or adding points to each colour…

11. Make Mandalas with them

20 Things to do withn Grapat Nins Rings Coins

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 little mushrooms are the favourites in our home. 

12. Trace over masking tape

20 Things to do withn Grapat Nins Rings Coins

Another invitation to learn that is super easy to set up. Create some shapes, letter, words or numbers with masking tape on your floor or table. Offer them the Carla set and let them cover the tape with rings, nins and coins. Discuss the shapes or words they created. What did they make? (and again – we can add the pattern making to this activity).

13. Stack Grapat Rings onto mug tree

20 Things to do withn Grapat Nins Rings Coins

You know those timber mug trees that are super inconvenient for your actual mugs? Well – don’t through them out! They are awesome for stacking the rings on. Your child can just stack random colours on the branches. Or you can add dot stickers, or labels with number to make it more challenging for older children. 

14. Stick Grapat Rings on the wall with painters’ tape

20 Things to do withn Grapat Nins Rings Coins

Grab some painters’ tape you still had from activity 12 and stick some coins, nins and rings onto the wall with them. Ask your child to peel off the tape and free the toys. Use thick tape for young children, and fold the end bit double to make it easier to grab the tape. For older children use the thin washi tape, or add a blindfold! You can even add a timer to make a little competition and give points for each ring and coin.

15. Hide them in rainbow rice

20 Things to do withn Grapat Nins Rings Coins

Making coloured rice is very easy and a fantastic sensory addition to open ended play. Hide the nins, rings and coins in a large bowl of rice. Offer some scoops and let them find all the pieces. We love to add the Grimm’s stacking bowls and the Grapat cups with lids when we’re playing with sensory rice. They are perfect to scoop and pour. You can just let your child experience this, or you can add extra challenges; who can find all the blue coins first. Or who can find the nins with their eyes closed. Etc.

16. Create a boardgame with them

The coins and rings are the ‘route’ to be taken and the nins are used to move around. You can either use a dice to move from start to finish, or create a coloured dice to move from colour to colour. To make it more challenging you can set extra challenges: a red ring means 3 steps back, or a blue coin means you have to pick up a question card…

17. Play ‘What’s missing’ with them

A super simple no prep game. Set up 3 or 4 items (or more when they are older). Let your child name the items. Then cover the items with a Sarah’s Silk and take one away. Or instead of taking it away cover it with a Grimms’ stacking bowl. Then ask your child what is missing. This game is great for waiting rooms, holidays and restaurants, as you just need a couple of nins, rings and coins to play this game over and over again. 

18. Dressing Grapat Nins

20 Things to do withn Grapat Nins Rings Coins

For the crafty ones amongst us, I highly recommend making little (seasonal) outfits for the nins. Santa hats, winter coats and scarfs are super easy to make with a piece of felt. We also love to give our dolls ‘crazy hair’ with wool. Once the outfits are done they can be added to the previously mentioned small world play and be the shining star of the play sesh! 

19. Combine Grapat Rings and Coins with Kontu STEM Blocks

20 Things to do withn Grapat Nins Rings Coins

I set up the empty bases from our Kontu STEM Blocks with a number coin and a ring. I asked Benji to count the spaces on the base and fill them up with the Kontu blocks. After that I showed him to find the right number of rings in the matching colour and add the right number and colour of nins too. This was the perfect activity for a counting obsessed kid. Everytime we finished it, he'd throw all the pieces back in the tray and tell me 'Benji Moon do it again'.

20. Dig them out of kinetic sand

Set up a sensory tray with kinetic sand, loose parts and bowls to scoop and fill. You can use tweezers to grab loose parts or scoops for the sand to find hidden treasures. Sensory play is always a success here and we really don't need to offer anything fancy. 

I hope you love reading about the different ideas on how to use the Grapat Nins Carla set! We love to hear your ideas on how to play with it. Leave us a note in the comments or send us a message via Instagram!

Want to see more play ideas? Make sure to follow Lisa at on Instagram!  

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