We all know the best way for kids to learn how to read, is to hear someone read to them daily. We also know the stresses and hectic schedules of being a parent. I've tried to make it a little easier for the kids to hear a story every night.
Back when I was actually a good teacher :), I did this regularly and thought I'd take the idea out of the vault again. I record stories for them to listen to. They take home a bag with a book and the recorded story. Like my artwork....
Wal-mart used to sell walkmans for $5.00 and for a time, every visit I made there I'd pick up one. They've lasted pretty well, some of the doors where you put the cassette are not attached anymore-but they still work. I'm told Sears.com sells them now for that price. We have also been lucky enough to have a Donorschoose proposal filled, so we have about 5 mp3 players too-much easier to maintain!
There are drawbacks-it's extremely time-consuming to maintain. I record new stories about every 2 weeks (any neighbor listening in must be really confused because I'm reading stories out loud to myself :). Every morning I have to check the bags to rewind/fast forward the tapes, check the charge on the mp3 players, so the next person can just press play and it will work. I worry about them getting lost or damaged, but (knock on wood) we haven't had that happen yet. I've had several talks with the students about responsibility and how valuable the bags are.
The plus-side is, I know every child has the opportunity to hear a story every night. They don't always listen to it when they take it home, but I gave them the opportunity. One year a parent told me her son would fall asleep listening to the story every night.