Robert Siegler, a psychologist at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, and colleague Geetha Ramani arranged for 124 children from low-income families to play board games for about an hour each. To qualify, annual family income had to be below $16,600 (about pound;8,300).
Some children played a numerical version of The Great Race, which involves moving on numbered squares. Others played the same game, but with numbers replaced by colours.
In four numeracy tests, the children who played the numerical version did significantly better than those on the colour version. Those improvements remained nine weeks later.
The research was published in the journal Child Development.