Our Reggio inspired Play Café is the epicenter of open-ended play. Little imaginations with no limits can create their very own area of discovery while stretching their social skills and building character. Open play is always encouraged at #theUC! 

Scroll over the collage of photos and areas will light up. Click and explore. Learn about the "why" behind The Urban Chalkboard.

Founders Tonya & Jessica hope that you fall in love with their concept and decide to make our Play Cafe one of your family's favorite hangouts.

Find out why we are a Yelp favorite!


Open-ended play is the name of the game in our kitchenette. There is no script or expected outcome. Children are free to self-direct and create their very own experience.

Science behind the play:

Open-ended role play helps children to sort out the roles they see their care-givers & peers maintain in their daily lives. Utilizing items they want to learn about & use they can develop story-lines and imagine how they fit into the world. Fine & gross motor skills are developed by pushing carts, handling small appliances & pretending to eat a variety of foods.

The House

Is it a house or a store-front? Either! The kiddos love to sell ice cream and bananas in exchange for magnatiles. No limits on imagination in this place.

Science behind the play:

Open-ended dramatic play provides numerous opportunities for developmental growth. A favorite of many children is to act out "home" roles. They try to understand their surrounding dynamics through pretend play. Sorting out conflicts while learning problem solving skills, creating an imaginary worlds & choosing the roles they want to play help lay foundational executive thinking skills.

Under 18 Months

A soft place for babies to safely play where they can explore their senses with touch sight and sound activities

Science behind the play:

Toys like NogginSticks & NogginRings help babies reach early milestones by encouraging grasping, batting, visual tracking, sound orientation & object permanence. Time spent on the tummy develops core muscles that will eventually support independent sitting. Contrasting colors, like black & white, grab the attention of new eyes. Simple light & sound combinations encourage focus & attention.

Farm House Art Table

Grab & Go art with a flair for the creative. We provide the supplies while children provide the creativity. This area doubles as a great place to sip a latte and chat with other parents.

Science behind the play:
Like reading with a child; creating with a child builds a bond that solidifies relationships and teaches all involved about listening, imitation, following instructions, patience & leadership. Process-focused art projects do not focus on the final outcome, but rather the steps taken along the way. Each of us has our own process which should be nurtured so that we are inclined to build upon our creative efforts.

The Patio

Chill out when the season is right. Our spacious patio provides a connection to the outdoors. Open April-October. Weather Permitting.

Building Blocks

Block play builds the foundation for future mathematical skills and other amazing executive functions. We have many types of blocks to build the skills of our future leaders.

Science behind the play:

Block play is magical. Dozens of developmental milestones can be met just by playing with blocks. Any type of block will do. Early block play translates into measurable aptitude achievements by middle school. Open-ended dramatic play builds vocabulary and important social skills. Impulse control becomes a factor when building socially, and block play sets up simple interactions that test children's ability to maintain control and pay attention.

We have partnered with The Purdue Extension to bring Block Parties to #theUC. Get more info about their research and programs here.

Train Table

Choo Choo! The train table is everyone's favorite. This is a fun place to witness curious eyes and hands discover just how much fun a train on a track can be. Wooden tracks, all the accessories & dozens of trains to share.

Science behind the play:
Dexterity and fine motor skills are developed while snapping together tracks and trains. Social concepts of sharing and comaraderie be come evident when this activity is enjoyed with others. Logic & mapping skills are developed as plans are made to move vehicles along tracks with organization.


The Dream Tree

Created by Indiana artist C. Thomas Lewis. A one-of-a-kind 6 foot maple tree that represents nature in all of it's beauty. Projected upon the tree are weather events and related algorithms predicting climate change. Adding to the tree's ambiance are nature sounds from the mountains. Find out more about the tree's history here.

Science behind the play:

The Reggio approach is strongly connected to nature. Curiosity is easily piqued by common elements found outdoors such as the weather, natural structures, landscapes, buildings, roads & ever day elements like water & minerals. Understanding nature leads to a greater understanding of ourselves.

Monthly Calendar

Our calendar is updated monthly right here in the cafe and also on our Facebook page.

Cool Facts:

Local artist Kate Oberreich helps us maintain our unique chalkboards. You can find her work all over Indy at many local restaurants and shops. Her cool, unique vibe lends itself to our modern space. She has even trained our staff on the latest hand-lettering techniques so that they can lend their own style to the Play Cafe. Kate also had her art featured in the movie Fault In Our Stars. Very Cool!!!

Most activities on our calendar are included with admission. The calendar is color-coded so that you know if an activity has a fee associated with it. Our play cafe staff is always happy to explain our offerings if you have questions.

Pick up a paper copy to take home at the cafe!

Logic Nook

Endless possibilities for little hands and minds to explore. This nook contains magnetic tiles, foam blocks, shape sorters, and assorted 2D & 3D puzzles.


Science behind the play:

The concepts of consequence, comparison, mapping & classification are introduced throught this type of play. Consequence becomes evident socially and physically as structures are planned, built and possibly destructed. Sorting of different objects by color & size develops comparative thinking and classification skills. Planning a build utilizes mapping and planning skills that lay the foundation for advanced executive functions. Fine motor skills are tested and developed.

Reading Nook

Books for everyone. Turning the pages of an actual book ignites senses in all of us. Little ones can enjoy pages that are rough or soft with pictures or words. Beginner readers will find literature just right for them. Adults will find something for themselves amongst our selection of currents and books.

Science behind the play:
Reading is one of the most meaningful interactions one can have with a child. Reading and writing are an extension of our basic human feelings in a form that can be shared with others. When we read our own words, or those of others, we are demonstrating that imagination and thought can be made into concrete models for all to experience.

Velcro Wall

Build a machine and watch it work...or not. Simple to place velcro components come together to make something truly amazing. Add a ball and see where it goes.

Science behind the play:

Trial & Error encourages and inquiring mind to keep exploring new opportunities. Failures teach children how to become successful by leading them to the correct process. The introduction of scientific inquiry should be done at an early age. This introduction teaches the concept of hypothesis testing, expected outcomes & secondary outcomes.

The Nest



A birds-eye view of the Play Cafe!


Our cushy bench is the place to be when you need to relax or get some work done while your kids play. FREE Wi-Fi is provided for all guests.


Food & drinks, purchased in the cafe, are allowed in the play area at one of our tables to keep spills & sharing to a minimum. Outside food & drinks, from other restaurants or home, are not allowed at #theUC. Check out our Cafe Menu!


Beneath the bench are child-protected outlets for charging your devices.

Bottomless Cup of Brewed Coffee

Fresh brewed pots are available so that you can serve yourself with unlimited cups of coffee during your visit.

Unlimited cups of coffee are only $3.25

We serve freshly ground roasts by

Each day we brew fresh pots of lightly flavored coffees from Noble Coffee & Tea and unflavored joe from Liberation Roasters.

Fresh dairy cream & sugars are available. Dairy alternatives are available upon request.

Grab & Go Deli

Our fresh deli case is full of locally sourced and healthy small bites for the entire family. We encourage healthy, allergen-friendly & simple choices to nourish growing minds.

In our case you will find goods from the following local small businesses:

Self Sign-In Kiosk

Welcome to The Urban Chalkboard!
Upon arrival ALL children need to be signed in to the Play Cafe.
We love adults but we do not need you to sign-in.
ALL children, under the age of 18 must sign-in. This includes babies.
Admission is applied to children 8 months - 8 years. All others are free of charge unless you are attending a special event or workshop.

When signing in:

  • choose the reason you are coming to #theUC. ie. play in the cafe, weekly class, special event
  • Only sign-in children {unless otherwise noted by staff upon arrival}
  • type each child's name and then click on their name when it pops up on the list
  • you are now signed in and your cafe tab is open for the day!
Once signed-in you can stop by the cafe to add items to your tab. Make a final stop at the cafe desk before leaving to close your tab and pay admission*.

*Members may leave without checking out. Your tab will be closed at the end of the day, your credit card on file will be charged & a detailed receipt will immediately be emailed to the account owner.

Inquire with the cafe staff about membership & auto-pay options.

Espresso, Specialty Drinks & Teas

We proudly serve Noble Coffee & Tea espresso in our cafe.

Each drink is handcrafted & made to your specifications.

Would you like an alternative to coffee? We offer a wide selection of teas served hot or cold.

Enjoy a specialty drink:

Salted Caramel Latte

Sunrise Moche

Cold Brew Coffee

Flavored Iced Tea

Chai Tea Latte

Cafe Breve



Organic Green Tea Latte

Cinnamon Spice Hot Tea

ask for flavor, non-dairy & low-fat options.

See our full drink menu here

Paul Dana Learning Studio

The studio's namesake, Paul Dana, is the late husband of our co-founder Tonya. Paul's love for learning & zest for life inspired Tonya to create the studio as a place for children, and adults alike, to continuously explore & learn. The space has been used for parties, parenting workshops, birthing classes, movie screenings, music performances & is the home to our Cafe Class series each quarter. Tonya is penning a memoir about the loss of Paul called Crash. Read Paul's story here.

Rent the space for your next event or party. More info

Play Waiver & Cafe Account

New to #theUC?

Welcome to your happy place. Come in, get comfy & have some fun!

There are a few rules to keep all of our guests safe & happy.

  • No outside food or drinks
  • Everyone plays in socks
  • No children over 18 months in the baby play area
  • All minors under the age of 18 must be accompanied by an adult and have a signed play waiver noted on their cafe account
Create your cafe account & complete a play waiver before your visit right here.

Daily Classes & Events

{join us in the PLAYcafe- all day- before or after}

how to play



Per Child
·Single Session admission is good for one business day
·babies under 9 months of age do not need to purchase a session but must have a play waiver on file & sign-in



Get 5 visits for the price of 4 with a digital punch pass {save $10}
·siblings can share a pass
·make great gifts!
·pass expires after 6 months



·Unlimited Visits for 1 child
·Quick & Easy Check In/Out
·Cafe Reservations up to 1 hour in advance of arrival
·2 guest passes per year
· &more...

Customer Testimonials

"I like the size of the facility and that I don't feel like I have to have a "plan" to go there. I can just wake up and decide to go and that's fine!"
Jamie L.

Play is always on the menu.
Daily events & activities can be accessed via Facebook, Printable Calendar or our Web Site.

"It takes the pressure off me as a mom to have to constantly wrangle my kid at home"
Rachel R.

#theUC is a judgement-free zone where everyone is welcome to just be themselves!

"I would recommend a private party here for an infant birthday to anyone who's looking for an alternative to Gymboree or some of the other typical birthday spots. Thoroughly satisfied!"
Woodland Creatures Theme
Brandon S.

Contact our party & event planner today!

"What a wonderful concept and refuge for weary parents. It's also a nice place for your kids to get out and have some fun"
Andrew S.

take a tour of our space and plan to join us today!

"Always plenty of parking which is a plus!"
Marcie M.

parking is always free in our large lot within the Carmel Marketplace located at AAA Way & east Carmel Drive

“If you're looking for a place for a play date where you can enjoy some adult time, I definitely recommend giving this place a try.”
Nicole L.

Research shows benefits for parents who take some time out for themselves and who make meaningful connections with their families.

"My sister introduced to me to UC yesterday. As a new mom that is expecting another baby this was a great place for my 1 year to make some friends and explore while I had much needed sister time with my sister. So happy to meet other moms that also just need a moment with a coffee!"
Brittany P.

Welcome to your happy place. Come in, get comfy & have some fun!

"Awesome place! Stay home dad paradise. Working on business while kids roam around. Love the atmosphere love the owners and the employees! They are super kind and loving towards my kids. If you are a stay home dad and would like some sanity come join me here!"
Keon K.

Our staff rocks! Get to know them here.

"Perfect place to sit back and enjoy amazing coffee + yummy snacks, while your little ones are entertained with a wide variety of toys and activities!"
Megan P.

check out our cafe menu for all of our local, , fresh & seasonal offerings


In The News

Urban Chalkboard offers playtime for kids and parents in Carmel

January 2017

Carmel's Urban Chalkboard is a play cafe

November 2014

The Paint Cellar and the Urban Chalkboard

June 2016

How Great Can It Really Be? Well, apparently pretty freakin' great!

March 2015

Welcome to a place where you and yours can share quality time
RUN, don't walk to The Urban Chalkboard

December 2014

Urban Chalkboard owners want to create a coffeehouse for families in Carmel

June 2014


June 2015

Memoir helps widow cope after IndyCar driver's death

October 2016



Monday - Friday

9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.


9:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m.




Contact Form

Please fill below form if you have any query with us.

Name cannot be blank.
Subject cannot be blank.
Message cannot be blank.

Research shows benefits for parents who take some time out for themselves and who make meaningful connections with their families.
We offer creative ways for kids to explore new foods specially portioned to provide the nourishment growing minds & bodies need.


Paul Dana Learning Studios are designed to support active child & adult explorations with color, sound, light, emotion, music & full-body interaction using established old-school practices as well as modern learning techniques and state-of-the-art technologies. Created to celebrate the life & spirit of Tonya's husband Paul; the learning studios offer you & your child a place to engage and experience your world in new imaginative & fun ways.

  1. Choose type or amount

  2. Customize your certificate

  3. Print or Email your gift!

Play Café Menu

Coffee & Espresso


fresh brewed local roasts

Tea & Chai


served hot or cold

Small Bites


snacks & beverages

our cafe menu is designed to support other local small businesses.

we purchase fresh roasted coffee beans that produce high quality brewed coffee & espresso drinks.

snacks & small plates for the entire family are well-rounded & made with quality ingredients.

outside food & drinks from home or other establishments are not permitted; with the exception of baby formula or dietary supplements

Themed Party Menu

Unique & Memorable

·Baby Showers·
·Custom Parties·


·Book Club·Game Night·
·Info Session·Private Party·
·Movie Screening·

Co-Founder | Owner
Co-Founder | Owner
Managing Director
Rental & Events Director
Urban Beats
Play Coach
Play Coach
Play Coach
Play Coach
Play Coach
Play Coach
Play Coach
Play Coach
Play Coach
Learning Studios & Play Café

Open play is encouraged all day long at The Urban Chalkboard.

We have wifi, bottomless cups of coffee & the perfect space to let children explore in a safe, accepting & comfortable environment.

Drop-in any time for fun & connectivity or make plans to attend a class or event!