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Construction play and cognitive skills associated with the development of mathematical abilities in 7-year-old children

Construction play is thought to develop logico-mathematical skills, however the underlying mechanisms have not been defined. In order to fill this gap, this study looks at the relationship between Lego con- struction ability, cognitive abilities and mathematical performance in 7-year-old, Year 2 primary school children (N 1⁄4 66). While studies have focused on the relationship between mathematics performance and verbal memory, there are limited studies focussing on visuospatial memory. We tested both vi- suospatial and verbal working memory and short term memory, as well as non-verbal intelligence. Mathematical performance was measured through the WIAT-II numerical operations, and the word reading subtest was used as a control variable. We used a Lego construction task paradigm based on four task variables found to systematically increase construction task difficulty. The results suggest that Lego construction ability is positively related to mathematics performance, and visuospatial memory fully mediates this relationship. Future work of an intervention study using Lego construction training to develop visuospatial memory, which in turn may improve mathematics performance, is suggested.