Children start learning from the day they are born. Each day babies and young children learn new skills they will use as they grow. Parents are right there from the start, helping their children learn.

The opportunity for learning exists from day one. Nearly all of the billions of nerve cells that made up the mature brain are created before birth. Early on, the brain is continuously “wiring itself” as it produces an abundance of specialized nerve cell connections and pathways. The child’s early experiences strongly influence this wiring process, which in turn affects the child’s ability to learn.


Children raised in cultures with high expectations for math consistently out-perform their peers in cultures where excellence in math is optional. A “math-friendly” culture is one that views math as fun, friendly, important, a source of curiosity, and useful in everyday life.

Parents begin to nurture a culture of math at home by giving their child ample opportunity to explore and make decisions in an exciting and meaningful context.

Parents, side-by-side with their child in block play, model positive dispositions toward math and learning such as playfulness, curiosity, creativity, and problem solving. They are taking the first steps in creating their own math-friendly, math successful culture at home.


Just as the beginning reader learns to recognize letters and sounds that make up words with meaning, the beginning math thinker must learn to recognize numbers, symbols and the quantities they represent as first steps to understanding math.

Giving children an early opportunity to understand, play and enjoy number work leads to early math success



According to Frank Lloyd Wright, his life as an architect began with a gift of blocks from his mother:

“I sat at the little Kindergarten tabletop … and played … with the cube, the sphere, and the triangle … I soon became susceptible to constructive patterns evolving in everything I saw.  I learned to ‘see’ and when I did, I did not care to draw casual incidents of nature. I wanted to design.”  – Frank Lloyd Wright, Architect




Studies of children playing with blocks have shown that amazing things are happening as they play. Block play promotes the development of new pathways in the brain.


These ages and stages are guidelines. Each child moves through them at his or her own pace with practice and experience.


Most 2-year-olds Most 3-year-olds Most 4-year-olds Most 5-year-olds
  • Use relationship words (“more juice,” “little baby,” “very tired”)
  • Build with blocks by stacking and toppling them
  • Count several objects (“1, 2, 3″)
  • Begin to use shapes to help place puzzle pieces
  • Use math to solve real life problems (“four people are at my party so I need four cups”)
  • Develop 1-to-1 correspondence  with small groups of objects
  • Begin to see and name patterns of shapes and colors
  • Count objects up to 10
  • Enjoy moving markers around board games by counting
  • Sequence five or more objects in order by size or by using other physical differences

Research Shows…

2006- Math Talk Preschool Children’s Mathematical Knowledge: The Effect of Teacher “Math Talk,” American Psychological Association  (2006)

2006- BLOCK Fest™ 2006 Analysis Report Math and Science Learning for Young Children and their Parents (University of Idaho PAT)

2007-BLOCK Fest™ 2007 Analysis Report Focus on Early Math and Science

2008- BLOCK play research analysis Social Policy Report Brief (2008): Improving Early Mathematics Education May Enhance Children’s Academic Success

2008-Research brief Early Math Skills- Building Blocks for the Future

2011-Interactive Play With Blocks Found to Facilitate Development of Spatial Vocabulary (

2013- What Does Research Say the Benefits of Discussion in Mathematics Class Are? Research Brief, National Council of Teachers of Mathematics


Articles from our friends at Community Playthings