Students at Hamilton Early Learning Center planted their first school garden this Spring.
And because their school year started in July, teacher Katherine Erickson said they've been given a unique opportunity.
"We've been able to actually go out and look at the plants grow and blossom and bare fruit. And we've been able to pull a little bit to see the roots underneath," said Erickson. "All that related within our science unit. We have a little bit of that opportunity within the school year, but it's not as authentic as us being able to walk outside and look at our garden."
Teachers also took advantage of opportunities to introduce students to their first cow.
"We went to the Houston County Fair," said Korayma Boyle, Hamilton Early Learning Center 3rd grader.
And walk to Green Island in La Crosse.
"They spent part of a day fishing and looking at the life cycle of animals and the habitats in our area," said Erickson.
But adding new hands-on programming to their lessons was only part of the changes teachers experienced.
"The start of our school year has been just remarkably calm. Remarkably uneventful," said Steve Michaels, Hamilton Early Learning Center principal.
That's partly because students remembered proper behaviors in places like the hallway and lunchroom which allowed teachers to quickly start teaching reading and writing instead of how to behave in school.
"By the third day of school, we started our reading rotations," said Erickson. "I didn't have to reteach how to do that."
"Teaching those things takes time," said Michaels. "And it takes time to establish a routine."
In some cases, up to two weeks can be spent with some of the youngest learners on how to behave in school. But at Hamilton this year, teachers and students were able to dig right into the academics.
"There's not as much redirecting of students," said Erickson. "There's not as much reteaching."
And that has allowed for student growth earlier in the school year.