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  • Emily Crofton

Learning from nature and Muddy Boots outdoor playgroups

Emily is the founder of Muddy Boots, an environmental education business in Leicestershire dedicated to light a spark in children and fuel their curiosity about nature. Level 3 qualified Forest School leader with twenty years experience of teaching in the Arts and outdoor education sector, she want you know how exploring the outdoors can ensure that you and your young family can remain in touch with nature and she invites you to join her at MuddyBoots.

According to a Wildlife Trust survey from last year,

Two thirds of UK adults feel they have lost touch with nature.

Muddy Boots can help you to ensure that you are not one of them.

How much time did you and your children spend outside yesterday? Be honest now, did you play at the local park for a few hours? Did you spend 30 minutes walking to school? Or did you just have a 1-minute dash from the front door to the car? Especially during these cold and wet February days, our time spent outdoors can easily dwindle to almost nothing.

You may have seen Robert Macfarlane, author of The Lost Words on BBC Newnight recently. He says that;

“British children now spend on average less time outdoors each day than prisoners...under one hour per day.


Our children are becoming prisoners to their screen-time, over protective parents and busy extra-curricular lives. As a child of the 1980’s, I spent much of my free-time messing about in the garden, playing outside with friends, building dens at the local park and through this learnt about the natural world without even realising that I was doing so.

My grandparents taught me how to grow vegetables, my parents told me the names of birds that we saw in the garden, my siblings and I went fishing for sticklebacks in the stream. Nature was all around me and it was a big part of my life. It’s only now as an adult, that I realise that maybe this type of nature-loving childhood is not the norm for many people.

A Wildlife Trust survey from 2017 found that:

“over one third of British adults couldn’t identify a barn owl, three quarters didn’t know what an ash tree looked like and two thirds felt that they had lost touch with nature”


If our children are not gaining their knowledge and love for the natural world from their parents, then will they find this connection at all? Or, will we lose the deep regard for Mother Earth within a generation?

One of the reasons I set up my environmental education business,

Muddy Boots, was to tackle this issue.

I wanted to provide positive, fun and informative outdoor learning experiences for families in Leicester. I run an allotment playgroup at a community allotment in Wigston and Forest school activities in Glen Parva.

My work gives me the privilege of lighting a spark in children and fuelling their curiosity about nature from a very young age. A young child is naturally drawn to explore a muddy puddle, the smell of a flower or the texture of tree bark.

At Muddy Boots, we take our lead from nature and learn practical skills, such as how a seed grows or how to identify a blackbird’s song. We also learn vital life skills like teamwork, sharing, resilience and caring for each other.

The adults who attend with their children also get a great deal out of spending weekly time ​in nature. Participants have told me that Muddy Boots has helped to lesson their anxiety, make new friendships and mindfully focus on their child.

Sadly words from the natural world are disappearing from our dictionaries every year. The most recent edition of the Oxford junior dictionary omitted words such as Heron, Lark, Acorn and Wren from its pages. Robert Macfarlane points out,

“We find it hard to love what we do not give a name to and what we do not love, we will not save.”

This fuels my passion further in providing activities that help to instil a love for nature in others.

The Outdoors are Calling!

Join me this spring at

Muddy Boots and let me help to set you and your family on a life-long path of loving nature.

Muddy Boots spring and summer blocks are now available to book.

Find out more and book your place at

Connect with me on Instagram @emilymuddyboots and

Share this piece to the families who may need it, they'll thank you for it!

Let us also know in the comment box below, what are your plans this year to get your family more outdoors? Where do you plan to bring them and why? Be Specific and Comprehensive. It will help another family to follow suit!

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