FINALLY I figured it out - PAPER CUPS!! These work PERFECTLY!! It is easy for the kids to cut the strips themselves AND they are surprisingly very durable.
When cutting out the spokes/warp strips, it is extremely important to remember to cut out an odd number of strips so that when you are weaving your AB pattern, the pattern alternates each consecutive time around. I found that with the 9oz cups my kids were using, 9 strips turned out to be the perfect number.
**If you'd like my template for this (5oz and 9oz cups), follow this link!
Once the strips were cut, students double-knotted a piece of yarn to one of the strips, then began weaving!
This particular class worked for 5 days straight on this (they really are a wonderful group).. and I had a few students who even completed 3 very well done cups in this amount of time (a couple even got pulled for our county art show)! :) The 4th grade teacher whose class did these wonderful weavings also has her own blog too - so if you're a classroom teacher, you may be interested to check it out!