Children learn best when they are really engaged in the material, and one way to engage a child in a social studies topic is to give him a chance to complete a project related to it. Of course, you can assign projects to children, but letting them pick projects off a list of ideas can get them thinking.
A creative project is one way to get children excited about what they are learning. For instance, a puppet show or play can help children learn about a topic. The performance can be just for the class, or it can be a special event that gives parents and the entire school a chance to see the children's efforts. Creative projects also present an opportunity for children to gain a sense of pride in what they've learned as they present their projects to parents and peers.
A social studies project in which a child builds a replica of a famous place and then presents a history of the structure and why it is important is another way to help a child learn history. For example, a student could assemble a replica of the White House and then present it to the class, along with historical facts about the White House. Or a child could complete a model of Amelia Earhart's Lockheed Electra 10E and tell the story of this famous aviatrix and why her contributions are so important.
Another idea for a social studies project is to allow a child to present a research paper on how a particular person, period or event in history is important to the student and why. For example, a child might choose to write a paper on how the creation of the U.S. space program lead a parent or other relative to be a scientist or even an astronaut. Another student could discuss the importance of the civil rights movement, not only from a historical point of view but also in personal terms. Perhaps the student could even ask a grandparent or another important person in her life to come to the class and recount first-hand stories of experiences related to the civil rights movement.