On the macro level:
2) Displays done by others are rarely as good as you imagine them to be. Relax.
3) 5th graders aren’t rocket scientists. Adjust your expectations. Relax.
4) No one else cares. Relax.
5) Note to self along the lines of NPR’s recent feature “Always attend the funeral.” Always attend the science fair. There are a lot of children there who worked hard on their projects and are just dying for someone to stop and ask questions. To say, “ooh, neat!” To read their board. Just do it. It’s nice. People like being appreciated and you’ll like being appreciated for appreciating. Appreciating isn’t hard, it’s pleasant.
On the micro level (the secrets to a good display):
1) Consistent use of fonts. Limit yourself to 2 or 3 sizes of font and be consistent in your use of fonts throughout. (We used 18, 72, 96. I might consider going even higher than 18 next time. 96 is not quite big enough, but it was the biggest font I had). We ended up going with a sans serif font for the titles and a serif font for the rest. The theory is that sans serif is easier to read at a distance. It seemed to work visually, but I’m still not sure I’m comfortable with mixing fonts this way.
2) Consistent use of color: Make all the headings a certain color, or make the background a certain color, or make the headings and the body a certain color. Just decide and stick to it.
3) Don’t forget the color wheel. The principles continue to apply.
4) Typing looks great. Typing beats handlettering for everyone but a privileged few.
5) Cardstock doesn’t wrinkle as easily as regular weight paper when glue is applied to it.
6) Gluestick = best adhesive for the job. It gives you a few second to adjust the placement. Purple gluesticks (so you can see the glue) are great.
7) The nicest displays are big and very readable. Don’t overdo the text!