Playing Ticket to Ride with a Four Year Old

I love strategy-based board games, and I have a four year old that loves to play games with me. There aren’t many board games for four year olds that aren’t mostly (if not entirely) chance-based, so I wanted to find a way to start introducing my son, Liam, to games with some strategy in them. Ticket to Ride seemed like a good choice, but he’s only just learning to read so the city names are currently beyond his ability to sound out. Sticky notes to the rescue!


We started out by watching the Ticket to Ride episode of TableTop by Geek & Sundry together:

This gave Liam a jump start on how the game is played. Then, I set up the board for us to play. After he picked destination tickets, we talked through his options together. We talked about how some destination combinations overlap making them easier to build and how some destinations require lots of shorter tracks and some require really long tracks. After he chose the destinations that he wanted to keep, I took sticky note arrows (one color to mark each different destination) and placed one arrow on the destination ticket and then one on each of the terminating cities. You can see in the photo above that I used yellow for Montreal to New Orleans, so I placed a yellow sticky note on the destination card, one on Montreal, and one on New Orleans. I used a different color for each of his destination tickets. Now, he didn’t need to be able to read to play Ticket to Ride, he could identify everything by color.

We talked through the turns and the strategy of where to go, and after a few turns, Liam was able to handle his turns on his own. He still asked a lot of questions and it was by no means a competitive game, but it was a really great start to a more strategy-based game.