Confession time: I think I might be the last mother in the city of Indianapolis to discover the maternal oasis known as The Urban Chalkboard. And no, “oasis” is not too strong of a word. Yes, I heard the chatter, saw the advertisements, noticed the social media check-ins, but for whatever reason I never made the trek up to Carmel to investigate in person. When I received an invitation for an event previewing the Urban Chalkboard’s new lineup of classes, I knew it was time to finally get myself there to see what all the hype was about. Really, there are so many things to love about Urban Chalkboard, many of which I will list for you, but if I am having a true confessional moment, I must admit that my favorite thing was my ability to carry on a conversation with an adult…get this…in the presence of children. Oasis, I kid you not. And when I say conversation I mean a good five minute stretch of uninterrupted grown-up talk. Of course we probably were talking about our kids, but only because we wanted to and not because we were constantly pausing to say, “Hold on, honey” or “What did Mommy say about interrupting?” To be honest, I almost started to miss my daughter who disappeared quickly after our arrival, but I can’t say I blame her. As much as The Urban Chalkboard was an oasis for me, it was kiddie heaven for her. As I polished my rusty conversational skills, she navigated between the wooden play kitchen, the reading nook, and immersed herself in the classes.
Urban Chalkboard is as aesthetically pleasing as it is functional and fun. The modern décor was equal parts whimsical and orderly, shelves lined with books surrounding a life-size wooden tree. Benches and tables overlook the play areas, so moms and dads can work while watching their children play. UC serves local goodies such as cookies from Illinois Street Food Emporium, coffee from Liberation Roasting Company, and other Indianapolis delicacies. Free Wi-Fi is just icing on an already delicious cake. Urban Chalkboard is truly unique in the area, and it is ideal for families with children under the age of five. What truly sets this business apart from other recreational options for families is its founders. Lovingly knowns as “The Two Docs” Drs. Tonya Bergeson-Dana and Jessica Beer bring a wealth of knowledge about child development, psychology, and communication. Dr. Tonya said that everything in the space is intentional, for learning, not just playing. She said that children learn the best through play and develop important skills such as negotiation and social communication. Both doctors hope that the Urban Chalkboard will allow real families access to important information about their children’s growth and development.
Okay, so why will I go back? First, let me return to my adult conversation. I don’t mean to belabor the point, but parents will surely understand the rarity of this occasion. Even better, there was no guilt. I was talking to other parents without feeling like I should be watching my child’s every move. There are a few reasons why Urban Chalkboard makes this possible. First, the incredible staff at UC played with my child. These kind and patient souls are all pursuing degrees related to child development, and they were fantastic. Really, they are cooler than me in the eyes of my three year old, and I am so okay with that. Second, there is just so much to see and do. My daughter played in the kitchen as both a chef and cashier. She read books and swiveled in the mid-century modern reading chairs. She rode a bike around the building, and she played with puzzles. She was busy and loved every minute of it. Third, the physical layout of the space is really conducive to this observation-style of parenting. I could watch my daughter without hovering. I could give her space and freedom, but I could always see that she was safe. I can envision myself being able to actually get work done here while she is happy and harm-free.
Another reason to return (or to go for the first time if you are a newbie like myself) is the fantastic calendar for the upcoming year. In addition to free play, The Urban Chalkboard will be hosting some dynamic and fun classes for children. “Sense It” allows children of all ages to discover the world with their senses. My little one was absolutely mesmerized with the light table and acrylic building blocks. She shook the sensory tubes and went digging in the fake snow. Budding musicians will enjoy classes with Mr. Daniel, parent and child classes, and even an instrument petting zoo. And last but certainly not least, cue the glow sticks and house music (G-rated, of course) for the “Baby Rave”. Dimmed lights, dancing children, disco lights, and bubbles. Get ready to be entertained.
If you have now succeeded me as the last Mom or Dad in Indianapolis not to have visited The Urban Chalkboard, don’t waste another minute. Pack up your kids and your laptop and head to Carmel for a guilt-free, productive, educational, and all-around satisfying afternoon.
For more information about The Urban Chalkboard, check out their Website:
For more information about their class schedule, click here:
Creative Media Editor
A recent transplant to the Midwest, Megan still gets excited by the first snow flurries of the season. Although her husband’s job as a private school administrator brought them to the area, Megan feels more at home in Indy every day. While she isn’t chasing after her two children or working her day job as a social worker, Megan enjoys drinking craft beer, photography, playing soccer, and fantasizing about all of the Pinterest projects she will one day complete