Child Development published research on the importance of block play in over one hundred preschoolers. The children in the study who were better at copying block patterns were also better at early math skills. Copying block pattern consisted of knowing whether a block went above or below with the blocks properly aligned. The results also indicated that children from lower income families were already falling behind in visual spatial skills due to limited experiences with blocks or other toys that encourage visual spatial development. Parents of lower income children also reported using the words "above" or "below" less often.
Reference: Society for Research in Child Development. "A child's spatial and math thinking likely improved simply by playing with blocks." Medical News Today. MediLexicon, Intl., 27 Sep. 2013. Web. 11 Oct. 2013.