Don’t Break The Ice (Rules and Gameplay Instructions)

Can you hammer away at ice blocks without sending Phillip, the penguin, into the icy depths below? This guide explains everything you need to know for Don’t Break the Ice rules. 

Don’t Break the Ice is over fifty years old and still exists in numerous household board game collections. This classic childhood game brings a sense of nostalgia that you can pass on to your children. 

This Don’t Break the Ice rules guide will cover the following:

  • What is Don’t Break the Ice?
  • A brief history of Don’t Break the Ice
  • What you’ll need to play Don’t Break the Ice
  • Don’t Break the Ice Rules
  • How to play Don’t Break the Ice (Video Tutorial)
  • FAQs

Read on to learn how to play Don’t Break the Ice.

What is Don’t Break the Ice?

Don’t Break the Ice Board Game Info Image

Don’t Break the Ice is a classic children’s game where players take turns knocking off pieces of ice without sending the toy penguin falling as well. 

Number of Players: 2-4

Ages: 3+

Difficulty: Easy

Length of Play: 20 minutes

Category: Toddler games, family games

Similar to: Don’t Spill the Beans, Kerplunk, Ants in the Pants

Main Objective: Players try to carefully knock ice blocks out of the tray without sending Phil the Penguin into the icy water below. 

Why We Love It: This game is quick and easy to learn; you can enjoy playing it immediately after set-up. 

A Brief History of Don’t Break the Ice

Initially designed by Hubert Schaper, the developer of Cooties, the Don’t Break the Ice game was released in 1969. By 1986, Schaper sold the game to Milton Bradley. Today you can still find Don’t Break the Ice for sale by Hasbro Gaming. 

You can now find particular editions of Don’t Break the Ice, including a Disney’s Frozen-themed game and many Don’t Break the Ice home challenges online. 

What You’ll Need to Play Don’t Break the Ice

Everything you need to play is included in this boxed set.

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The complete game box contains: 

  • 1 ice tray frame
  • 2 mallets
  • 4 ice tray legs
  • 1 large ice block
  • 32 small ice blocks
  • Phillip the penguin miniature 
  • Instructions

Area of Play

A grownup will need to help set up the game before gameplay. 

Turn the tray upside down and insert each of the four legs into the lower corners of the ice cube tray to stand up the board. 

Then, while the board is still upside down, insert all 32 ice cubes into the tray, including the large ice cube. The large ice cube can be positioned anywhere among the others.

Now, turn the board over carefully and place Phillip the Penguin on the large ice block. 

Area of Play Image

Don’t Break the Ice Rules

Each player, or team, takes a mallet and the youngest player goes first. 

The first player taps on a single ice cube and must continue tapping until the ice block falls through. Other ice blocks may also fall through during this process. 

As long as Phil doesn’t fall through, continue taking turns knocking out pieces of the ice. 

Players take turns moving clockwise around the board. Each player works to tap through a block of ice without knocking Phil into the imaginary water below. 

If you break the ice and Phillip the Penguin falls through, you are now out of the game. You can reset the ice and allow the other players to continue playing. 

How to Keep Score in Don’t Break the Ice

There is no numerical score involved in this children’s game; however, you could always assign your point system to the ice cubes for an added challenge. 

The last player remaining without letting Phil fall is the winner! 

How to Play Don’t Break the Ice – Video Tutorial

Frequently Asked Questions 

Does Walmart have Don’t Break the Ice? 

You can find the Don’t Break the Ice game at and other popular stores. 

How do you play the penguins game?

You can find several generic versions of Don’t Break the Ice online today. With similar gameplay and setup, the shape of the ice tray and ice cubes vary. 

How many people can play Don’t Break the Ice?

Don’t Break the Ice is designed for two to four players. You can play on teams of two, or everyone can play individually. 

Other Games Similar to Don’t Break the Ice (Our Guides)

Looking for nostalgic games from childhood to share with your children? Check out these other classic kid’s games:

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Read all the articles (69) written by Andrea Huguley