Solmukohta 2020: 500 Magic Schools for Children and Youth

Solmukohta 2020: 500 Magic Schools for Children and Youth

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Josefin Westborg, Anders Berned, Kol Ford, Mike Pohjola

This programme item brings together the NGOs, companies and other entities that run magic schools for kids and youth. Each organisation will be presented with a focus on what they have in common, what they do differently and why, and how they can inspire each other. The aim is to create knowledge exchange and inspire others to start up magic schools. One goal in the programme is to agree on when we would like to have 500 magic schools for kids in Europe (and how to get the funds to start it up).

Q&A from the original viewing at Solmukohta 2020 Online event

Anon 1: I love the idea to create your own IP for the magic school based on the local culture, folk tales and myths. I’d love to know more about the Finnish magic school.


Anon 2: Agree! I run an ‘edularp’ for 4 Hungarian students weekly which is set in the HP universe and it uses the Hungarian Pálos rend (Order of Saint Paul the First Hermit) as a background


Anders Gredal Berner Anon 2: Sound awesome! What age group is the students?


Anon 2: 11-12yo. One of them already had tabletop RPG experience .


Mike Pohjola We’ve used local customs and beliefs when applicable. Like using an Easter tradition to create monsters (trulli) and a way to defeat them (Easter whips) for a larp played in Easter.

The school Houses are loosely inspired by different parts of heritage of this area, but that’s not something we’ve explained to the kids yet. Mostly they’re based on different personality traits.

Then many of the words we’ve created based on really old Finnish words, like marto (=dead) for a non-wizard. (Just to be different than Potterverse.)


Anon 4: Would be interesting to do a magic school intirely based on folklore


Anon 5: In magic school you can play out your wildest fantasy of going to school where the classes aren’t boring


Anon 6: I just listened to some of the interviews from last autumn about Finnish Velhokoulu, and some of the kids love stealing candy while invisible and teasing the teachers, so basically making things happen with “magic” in a very simple way


Anon 7: I would love to throw on (I work in a non profit association as game facilitator and children educator) but truly I don’t know where to begin. I have children from 6 to 15


Anders Gredal Berner Anon 7: Sound awesome. We had a long discussion after the recording, also touching on how to help others to starting up. Im sure the rest of the panel is also up for helping -And your very welcome to get our materiales, guides ect.


Anon 7: I would love that if it’s ok with you. :O


Anon 3: Anders I would like that very much.


Anon 6: And kids love adults reacting to the magic the students perform


Anon 2: Do you think its ‘just’ the power of empowerment or is there something else in it?


Anon 6: I think it’s both: it’s also immersion, and having adults play with them in this imaginary world that to some feels very real and they keep playing their characters even at home with friends and family


Anon 2: They keep playing at home? THAT sounds interesting!


Mike Pohjola Essentially we teach them new children’s games. Like if you put your hands like this you’re invisible. Or this is a new version of catch-me-if-you-can that is the magical effect of the monster.


Anon 6: is the Finnish website, it’s all in Finnish at the moment but you can find a description and pictures of our houses there. Also video links and Instagram was recently added


Anon 5: magic schools have no homework


Anon 8: A side note, Josefin’s outfit is a blast <3


Anon 9: also yay for gender-neutral terms!


Anon 6: In general I like to use the work “taikoja” so a “magic user”, since I feel velho is more a boy term still but that’s mainly because in the books Harry Potter is a velho/wizard and Hermione is a noita/witch.


Mike Pohjola Yeah, that’s an Anglicism. In Finnish tradition they’re both gender neutral.


Anon 10: The adults keeps the world more real for the children, being a part of the immersion and magic. It’s easier for the children to be a part and take a part of the game as their characters when the adults encourages them in their characters. The younger the player, the more important it is.


Anon 7: It’s cool that things happen in the magic world. Like it’s not just a background and can be played anywhere


Anon 6: We have 40min class then 20min break where they can invade the teachers’ lounge, talk to creatures and explore.


Anon 6: Classes usually have handcrafts or taming magical creatures or spell tag


Anon 10: Not sure if I missed this, but (about) how many players you have in one game? Since we have about 50players a game in Velhokoulu.


Anon 6: Good question!


Anders Gredal Berner Our magic school is up to 50 participant + teachers, helpers, monsters.


Josefin Westborg In the library larp we have they meet famous children story characters from books that they need to help. One of them are Loki the Norse god. Last time we had a child that asked who I was when I showed up as Loki. I didn’t answer but mumbled something about that I needed to get back at my brother Thor. Then he looked at me and got wide eyes and said: Oh, no. I know who you are. You are Loki! I’m not gonna help you, I’m on your brothers side”. And then he walked away.


Anon 6: I like this test idea :OOO we could have that too in Ropecon etc!


Mike Pohjola Totally stealing it! 😀


Anon 5: does anyone ever fail anything in schools of magic?


Anon 6: If I understood correctly, I’d say the characters are not perfect in what they do, so the teacher will assist them during class and they will get better during the class


Anders Gredal Berner Anon 5: Yes 🙂 both on a personal level and plotlines – you can fail at our magic schools. But its a kids activities for 8 to 13 years and with a visions about producing better humans – so there is somethimes the PC takes over 😉


Anon 11: I remember a kid from my latest Velhokoulu who had a character who failed all the spells they tried until the end when they finally suceeded, they seemed to enjoy it a great deal


Mike Pohjola The most common failure is being too shy to participate or scared of our monster. Then we try to help them overcome this.

But of course they can also fail in, for example, translating ancient runes into modern alphabet.


Josefin Westborg Anon 10:: In the shortest little drop in larp we can run it with just 1 player but max 12. For the libraries, we have 1-16 and for the school one we take around 30. We have made a special version where we do it as a pleasure larp and not an edularp and then we can have up to 40 players.


Anon 6: We raised the prices since our expenses have risen, storage and book keeper have come into the picture. Also the locations are tricky to find within a reasonable price range as we need to run two games in one weekend for it to be financially smarter.


Anon 12: Hope you get City funding Mike. The entrance fee is a lot of money for many people. Not for what they get (a long, wonderful experience) but as a sum. The threshold for many people for applying for free admittance is high I think. Hope you reach that group of people, too. Perhaps channels/contacts with for example some children’s organisations might help in this?

Velhokoulu’s rock! <3


Anon 6: I’m envious of your cheap prices as I fear we’ll be unreachable for some players soon, even if we have the “discount ticket” of 10€ available as we can’t give it to everyone (so far we have managed to take everyone in who needs the discount ticket though)


Anon 2: Thats interesting because only 1 of my students from 4 wanted to have wizard parents!


Anon 2: I think you have a larger sample size, Josefin. I have to ask my students why do they like muggle parents 🙂


Josefin Westborg This is mainly in the school larps. It’s not as much with the slightly older students when we do it for leisure. The school larps are mandatory for the students. So that might be part of it. That the kids who come to magic school larps out of free will have another relation to it.


Anon 6: Our kids have an option to be part creature too. So far we’ve had one half-dragon, one son of Zeus (allegedly, he had no proof) and one half-Pigglet.


Mike Pohjola Oh yeah, I forgot to mention this! We added this option because so many wanted to be NPCs since then they could be magical creatures. But we didn’t want random 8-year olds as NPCs. 😀


Anon 6: We started a YouTube channel, we’re hoping to create content there that will amuse our players and will hopefully reach new players too.


Anon 3: Mike, is it possible to pool resources somehow?


Mike Pohjola I’m sure it would be!


Mike Pohjola I mean, yes! That’s one of the points of having this talk. In physical Solmukohta we would have had a bigger gathering after it.


Anon 6: I feel that after this presentation I’m actually feeling the real disappointment of not being able to see you all and discuss face to face :((((


Anon 6: Oh well, next time then!


Anders Gredal Berner We are creating a network of magic schools – both to inspire each others and especial to help others to start up their own magic schools for kids and youth.

Why to start a magic school for kids:

– Give the kids a good xp and change the world one step at the time

– Create stabel income for your larp NGO

– Create jobs for young larpers as instructors and larp runners

You can contact us at or you can write here at FB :).

All Love

Anders Berner

Project Coordinator



This was part of the Solmukohta 2020 online program.

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