I believe that a picture is worth a thousand words...especially for visual learners. We are moving into the Civil War this week - a perfect unit to really distinguish between primary and secondary sources. What better way to show them what life was like in the 1850's than to show real photographs, paintings and prints from the time period. I started my unit by showing them this power point that you can down load for free.
It sparked many discussions and certainly made it "real" for the students.
Next, my colleagues had made up a concept sort, which the students were able to arrange and discuss before copying onto a real Venn Diagram to keep in their notebooks.
Hope these strategies help you engage your kids in social studies....