Do You Have High Spatial Reasoning Skills? Playing with Legos or Video Games as a Child Could Explain It

in psychology •  11 months ago

Did you really enjoy playing with legos as a child? I did! Being able to create larger constructs from smaller components was creatively enjoyable, and sometime it was a challenge. It also mirrors how everything in reality is constructed, from basic matter to everything us humans also make.


The planned and laid-out constructions from model kits were simple enough to build, but the deeper thinking and fun for me was in building the alternative models that were shown on the back of the box with only one image. I would figure out the blocks and their positions from the image alone, and construct the model without having instructions provided. This is what I enjoyed more.

It turns out that paying with construction-based toys or certain video games may help develop spatial reasoning skills like being able to mentally rotate objects. This is of advantage to people who go into engineering, math or scientific fields (like geology) where they can manipulate objects and see an end result without needing to do it physically.

A CIRES study published in Geosphere have fond that "providing spatial training to K-12 children, and providing spatially demanding toys before schooling starts" introduces "the opportunity to develop skills important in fields like science, technology, engineering and math."


Hundreds of students at the undergraduate level scored between 6% and 75% on spatial reasoning written tests. The study classified the results of the spatial reasoning tests by college major, childhood play patterns, standardized test scores, number of science courses taken, and gender.

Gender differences were distinct, as well as childhood play patterns: men in general outperformed women. Women who played with construction-based toys or certain video games performed just as well as their male counterparts who did the same.


This shows how difficult it is to teach everyone at the same level given they are at different levels of comprehension with respect to spatial reasoning. Some people have a harder time understanding compared to others. Teaching spatial skills at a younger age would bridge this gap between students. Their research found that the difference in spatial skills with respect to gender can be closed if girls also play with constructions-type toys. They aren't only a "boys" toy or game.

One game I know of that is comparable to the spatial construction of Legos, is Minecraft. You can build whatever you want, just like with Legos, but even more potential because you won't ever run out of blocks and you don't need to buy blocks either :)

What is your situation with spatial reasoning? Are you good at it, or not so much?
Did you play with Legos as a child? Wasn't it so much fun!?
Have you played Minecraft?


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Oh I really loved playing with legos... As a child, sometimes I would spend basically all day playing around with those blocks. It was so much fun to use my own imagination to construct something and come up with all kinds of scenarios. It felt as if I was in a different world/reality...
I really miss those times. But I wasn't that good at constructing something without any instructions. For some reason I didn't develop that skill.
I agree that Minecraft can feel similar to that! I have spent a lot of time playing Minecraft as well, and I enjoyed building all kinds of things. My favorite thing was to build some cool houses or mansions.


Hehe, minecraft is evily addictive >_< Lego on setoids lol! Thanks for the feedback.

I think my spatial reasoning skills are excellent. I played with k'nex, lincoln logs, legos and erector sets and electronic circuit learning kits as a kid. I also started playing the old original nes nintendo video games @ around 5 or 6 years old about when they came out. Surprisingly, I've never played minecraft though. I see YT videos about them all the time and it seems pretty cool. I love building new things, tearing old things apart to either try to fix them or just see how they work. I went on to study Mech. Engineering in college...


Wow, awesome list of toys, I only had legos ;) I'm not surprised you ended by saying you studied mech engineering after what you previously said ;) hehehe. Thanks for the feedback.

Not just legos , my childhood consisted of my whole family sitting on one air conditioned room . While me and my younger brother would build puzzles (1,000 piece) everyday and see who can finish it first and then get a new one . Also legos and building blocks were a big part of our daily activities . Maybe that’s why he has a 4.0 GPA and is 1st in his college for Avaition Engineering


Cool, yeah puzzle building, or other mind thinking puzzle games of sorts are very good to get the mind manipulating data ;) Sounds like good childhood toys for your bro ;) Thanks for the feedback.

When I was little Lego's were my favorite! I had the huge ones and then the small ones that came with instructions on how to build the ship or animal! I did not like using the instructions and had much more fun trying to build it without the instructions!!

We did not have a video game system until I was like 10 or 11 years old. The only reason we got one was because we were staying at a hotel in between moving and all of our stuff was packed away.


Cool! Legos rule :) The fun we used to have when we were oh so small ;) Thanks for the feedback.


Times were definitely much simpler back then!!

Thats really interesting! Would be curious how i score in tests like that as an engineer :)

Great article!


Good question, maybe there are some tests online you can try out ;) Thanks for the feedback.

It turns out that paying with construction-based toys or certain video games may help develop spatial reasoning skills like being able to mentally rotate objects. This is of advantage to people who go into engineering, math or scientific fields (like geology) where they can manipulate objects and see an end result without needing to do it physically.

Seriously playing with construction-based toys or certain video games help develop spatial reasoning skill. When i was a kid, ive always wanted to be a civil engineer and my mom got me all the toys i needed to develop my reasoning skill. Today im a proud engineer. Nice post. You've got my upvote!


Sweet! Good mom there! She got you to develop your skills well! Thanks for the feedback.

Though I've never learned about spatial reasoning skills but still at different platforms I've gone through such tests which were meant to measure IQ level and I always got above 75% results so I can proudly say that I'm good at these.
I didn't have the resources during my childhood but for sure I'll refer Minecraft like games for my younger brothers for boosting their spatial reasoning skills.
Thanks for writing something qualitative.


Cool, good for your younger brothers ;) Thanks for the feedback.

I wonder if we let children play virtual games with 4D objects (or more like their 3D projections on a 2D screen), would the children be able to develop a slightly more intuitive understanding of higher-dimensional geometry and topology than people who start thinking about this stuff for the first time as adults.

I can stare at a rotation of a tessaract all day and I could never fully grasp it, but maybe a developing brain could still wire-itself to have some intuition about it. This could be a huge benefit in the future if they go into a field that deals with higher-dimensional math.


Good question. Is it the gif of a moving 4d cube?


Yep, like this one:


But this is really just the absolute basics of it. There are rotations in other directions, options for more complex shapes and even interactions between 4D objects. It's mindboggling really, but maybe a child can develop an intuition for those if they start experiencing and playing with them at an early age. By playing something like 4D Minecraft for instance.

Interesting study. I never got the taste for playing with Lego, et. al. and my spatial reasoning skills ain't that good. My brother did, and he parlayed his knack into owning a custom machining shop.


It seems there is a lot of demonstrable truth that many people can corroborate with this study. Thanks for the feedback :)


Glad to!

Hi @krnel - I've used one of your old mantras "Truth is love, love is truth" in my profile and I've now developed writing with my non-dominant hand - v.strangely it's helped me with my spatial awareness - especially in advanced mathematics and engineering.


hehe, kool, glad I've been an influence of sorts :) I learned to use a mouse with my left hand, but not writing. That's neat! Thanks for the feedback.

when i was child i like to play strategic games like Aoe or Imperia Online ( i take world silver cup and over 60 gold medals )😂 but i can tell i not have problems with spatial view or orientation for me is very easy

I didn't get any chance playing with legos when I was a child.


And how is your spatial reasoning?


Horrible! I have struggled with math and physics my whole life.

my nephews like this type of games

I grew up with Lego, it was my favorite toy! I had a huge box, and no model, so I would build castles from scratch. If I ever have kids, that's what they'll get for Xmas =)