How to Make a Life Size Two-Dimensional Beaver*

* See also: Keep your perverted comments to yourselves.

Jack’s class is studying the Chesapeake Bay and has been working on a research project about flora and fauna native to the region. Jack was supposed to choose something to study and he came home a few weeks ago demanding to study the mosquito fish.

I have no idea why.

Sadly, the mosquito fish does not seem to live in the Chesapeake, so we perused a Chesapeake Bay website to find a new topic. The fact that the website was arranged in alphabetical order and that Jack chose to research the beaver are surely unrelated.

It turned out to be a good choice, however, because the beaver is a pretty fun animal to find out stuff about. Also, there are many tasteless jokes to make.

Anywho, the final project was to make a life size, two-dimensional representation of the animal. (Me, in my head: “Huh. Would have been a lot easier to make a fish.”)

Jack and I are a little bit mad about the grade he got on some science posters he worked on at school, so we were determined to make the most kick-ass beaver ever. Because we are sharers, I thought we could let you know how to create a kick-ass beaver as well.


How to Make a Kick-Ass, Life Size, Two-Dimensional Beaver!

Step one: Acquire materials. Jack and I both wanted to cut up the beaver fur hat that Alex had bought when we lived in Alaska, but Alex had some sort of weird objection to that. Never mind that I had objections to him buying it in the first place.

This left us to come up with an alternative material. We decided on felt and I told Jack that I would go buy it at the local craft store while he was at school. The local craft store, incidentally, is almost exactly 5 kilometers away from my house. Ask me how I know.

I decided to combine my errand running with my daily run, which was a great idea, but for the fact that once I ran three miles and wandered around the craft store for a while (The cashier: “You look like you’ve been working out.” Me, sweaty, disheveled, and smelly: “Um. Yeah.”), I had to run three miles back home, THIS TIME WEIGHED DOWN WITH TWELVE SHEETS OF FELT—AND GOOGLY EYES. What I do for Jack.

Step two: Name your beaver. (Jeez. Every time I use that word, it sounds so diiiiirty.) Jack was prepared with a name for the beaver he was about to create: Justin. Justin Beaver. Get it? I don’t know how Jack gets it; we have a strict No Bieber rule in my house, but evidently someone has gotten to him.

Step three: Find a model and create a sketch. Hooray for Google Images. We found a beaver to model Justin Beaver on and Jack set about to drawing.

Draw the beaver

I know the model isn’t too realistic, but it has four legs and a tail, so close enough.

Step four: Try to convince someone else to do the work on every step. Before every single step, Jack would say, “Can you do it? I’m not very good at…drawing/cutting/gluing/hanging out with you while you construct my beaver.”

Nice try, Jack. You can do all of those things.

Step five: Cut out the beaver template.

Cut the beaver

See? See Jack cut.

I’m actually very proud of Jack. There was a lot of fine motor work involved here. I helped him with some of it, but he did a fantastic job and did most of it himself. For a kid who has a hard time getting through ordinary homework on a regular night, doing all this intensive work—and being motivated to do a good job—well, I am just so damn proud of him.

Step six: Be awesome. When you’re Jack, you’re required to take an Awesomeness Break now and again.

Be Awesome!

This step is pretty easy for Jack.

Step seven: Transfer the template shape to the felt, cut it out, and glue it to the template. I took photos of all of this, but then I realized that they were all photos of Jack manipulating brown felt and I thought that each photo was adorable and very different from the next, but then realized that they might all just look the same for you. So Step Seven will be represented by The Cutting of the Felt.

The Cutting of the Felt

The Cutting of the Felt

The beaver by the way? Has a two-sheets-of-felt body.

Step eight: Take a break to figure out how electricity works. Quinn had spent this whole time playing with his jack-o-lantern as if it were his newest teddy bear. That kid is funny. Somehow Jack ended up with one of the little electric candles and spent some time figuring out how it worked.

Figure out electricity

After he started disassembling it, I thought about stopping him, but figured that the shock from such a tiny voltage was unlikely to be fatal, so I let him continue.

Step nine: Choose an eye from the pack of many sized googly eyes. This was more complicated than it might seem at first glance. I had to spend a fair amount of time trying to convince Jack that he had created a side view of a beaver, which only required one eye. Jack spent a fair amount of time trying to convince me that he should put two different sized eyes on the beaver to make him look more like Perry the Platypus.

Step ten: Glue the ear onto the beaver, then, when your mom steps away to find materials for beaver whiskers, have a “glue incident.” I swear to God, that is what he called it.

The Glue Incident

He wasn’t even gluing anything at the time. I have no idea how this happened.

Fortunately, it is easy to clean glue off of a beaver.

Step eleven: Write your name on the back, but not before you add the speech bubble you wanted to glue on the front, but that your mom made you put on the back.

Hi! My name is Justin

That kid is irrepressible.

I admire Jack for his integrity in sticking to his vision.

Step twelve: Pose with  your finished beaver in a totally realistic manner. Turns out that the beaver is kind of a jerk and just wanted to paddle Jack in the face with his tail. Not very nice after Jack created him and all.

The finished beaver

I have to say, I think Justin Beaver turned out nicely.

Step thirteen: Enjoy special after-school video games because you worked so hard on your beaver.

Well deserved.

I know you’re going to ask. It is called Roblox. I have no idea what it is.

Step fourteen (This step is for the mom): Send in the beaver with your kid and hope that you didn’t grossly misinterpret the assignment because, oh, dear God, that boy worked so hard on that beaver that he really deserves a great grade. Cross your fingers for us.

The best beaver

That’s right. I have the best beaver.

That’s what she said. (God, I’m so sorry. I held out until the very last. I am so very sorry.)

29 thoughts on “How to Make a Life Size Two-Dimensional Beaver*

  1. Now imagine being me, working for an institute of higher learning whose mascot is the beaver, and going to basketball games and other sporting events with your young ones. Let’s just say that “Beaver Fever” is the least of it.

    • As someone who went to an institute of higher learning whose mascot was the Trojan, I salute you, brave beaver.

    • My dad’s high school’s mascot happens to be the beaver and he says “Beaver Fever! Catch it!” should be their line. He had some Asperger traits as a kid, btw. I guess I got it from him.

  2. That is a seriously amazing mixed-materials, life-sized beaver. Love the awesomeness break! Great job, Jack! We had it easy–R. chose the red-spotted newt, which is all of 5 inches long and not especially complex. (All we did was draw a picture of one, color it with colored pencils, and cut it out–I hope *we* didn’t misinterpret the assignment either!)

    • Niiiice. Next time I’ll have to make sure I check to see what the final project is before I let Jack choose his animal. And thank you for solving the mystery of the mosquito fish. I was completely flummoxed by that.

  3. Oh, and the soda-bottle habitats the students made in science class apparently have mosquito fish in them, so that’s where *that* came from.

  4. That is an amazing beaver! (I remember seeing a nutria once cross the road in front of us on a little road somewhere on the eastern shore… I suppose you should be glad you didn’t have to make a life-size one of those – that would be a LOT of felt!)
    Well done Jack!

      • Pearl would have insisted on doing a horse. Whether they are native to the area or not. I’m glad she’s not in Jack’s class! (Kinda. ‘Cos if she were, then we would live near you and that would be so awesome it would probably outweigh the awful of making a life-sized horse out of felt).

  5. As an alternative he could come to my house and capture a beaver that lives in the woods behind my neighborhood. Because those damn beavers are always doing their beaver things and flooding the neighborhood and my husband says he could use one less of them. (how’s that for double entendre?)

    Also: my children believe that kid’s name is actually “Justin Beaver.” I have no desire to correct them.

    • God that would be awesome if Jack showed up with a live beaver in his backpack. Although the project specifically said “two-dimensional,” so it would have to be flattened roadkill.

      Also, I think you should keep one eye on your husband at all times.

      • I actually was going to make the flattened roadkill option in my first comment, but I thought I’d be labeled as a beaver hater.

  6. Jack did a great job!! And the 12 year old in me cannot stop giggling over the amount of times you wrote “beaver” in this post…teehee

  7. So many funny things in this post. I think I just woke up my 3 year old because I laughed and spit coffee out of my nose. So thanks for that. ;-)
    And totally checking out Roblox because I see you are using that on a Mac and my 8 year old is super frustrated because we can’t get Minecraft to download properly.
    “Justin Beaver.” “That’s what she said.” Tee hee hee. Not gonna be able to finish my coffee.

  8. When you were running the three miles home with the felt, was it in a shopping bag or did you forgo the bag and just carry it in your hands ? I keep laughing when I picture someone running while holding brown felt .

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