Whenever I take my son to a science center for the day, he usually spends some time with building blocks. Science centers always seem to have them - either the wooden ones in unique shapes you have never seen before, or those giant foam ones.
And my son builds. He builds houses and towers and city blocks and whatever he can think of. The giant ones are especially fun when other kids are around, as they all usually end up making their own house and it's like a kiddy neighborhood out of blue foam.
I have been watching him build like this for years, and while I am certainly aware that building helped his motor skills in his earlier years, I wasn't aware that playing with blocks could have helped him with math.
It's the structured play with blocks that makes a difference - the "can you build me a tower that is this tall" or "can you recreate this structure that I built" play. Not the (more usual) "hey look, blocks! go play" version.
But I would argue that even with that free from play, some budding math skills are in use: They have to determine how many blocks they will need, they have to balance their structure and - most importantly - children have to calculate how much longer they have to play with the giant foam blocks and still have time to see the rest of the science center.
Do your children like playing with blocks? Tell me in the comments.