Teachers at an Edmonton Catholic elementary school are giving students with special needs a room devoted to playtime in order to engage their senses, which will help with their learning.

The room at St. Gabriel Elementary School has hundreds of lights, a spinning disco ball, toys that stimulate a student’s sense of touch and mattresses to help make the students feel more relaxed.

“We want children to be able to explore and direct their learning through sensory,” said former assistant school principal Joanne Friedt, who brought the idea to the school last year.

“These are kids that have sensory integration difficulties, and this is a time for them to interact with lights and sounds to build on their sensory.”

Friedt said the concept of the sensory room came from the Netherlands, and all students at the school have taken advantage of it since it improves their alertness level.

And if a student is having behavioural problems, the sensory room is used as a tool to calm the student down, said the school’s current assistant principal, Jackie Flynn.

“This room is in high demand,” said Flynn.