Does this strike pain in your heart like it does mine? Can I just say first of all how GROSS I think earbuds are for elementary students? Not all little ones have someone to clean out their ears for them and ... that's all I'll say. Secondly, they are a tangled mess all the time, leading to frayed wires.
I came up with a way that seems to be helping my kids avoid the tangles and I've posted some pictures below. The key is "Spiderman" fingers (pointer finger and pinky finger). Students hang the earbuds below their pinky and can hold the cord with their thumb. Wrap the cord around the 2 fingers, leaving a "tail" that is several inches long at the top. Remove the bundle of cords, gather them, and wrap the middle with the tail.
This is helping most students keep their earbuds neat and my life a little happier. Hope this helps make yours a little happier too!