1) Bringing Art to Life - This activity should be done towards the end or after studying a unit/topic. Show students a painting of a person, a battle, an important event, anything really that is relevant to your Social Studies unit/topic. It could even be a photograph. Have students study the photo. Discuss the people in the piece of art. What might they be thinking, where are they, what are they doing, etc... Assign students a character in the photo. Have them mimic the character in the photo by talking and acting like the person in the picture. You can even interview them with a list of premade questions so students can rehearse! You can adapt this by having students write a memoir/letter/paragraph pretending they are the person in the photo.
2) Time Line Challenge - This activity can be used as a unit activiting or culminating strategy. Print 10-12 photos from a time period you are studying. Mix up the photographs and distribute them to random students in the classroom. Have those students with photos come to the front of the room holding their pictures for the class to see. Ask the rest of the class to work with the students standing up to put themselves in the order they think they go in time. This will work best AFTER studying a unit, but it may be worth trying at the beginning of unit to see what students can recall from the previous unit and what knowledge they may already have of the unit you are introducing. If you use it as a unit activator, it will introduce students to the content and they may even remember a thing or two.
3) Zoom - In Inquiry - Take a picture from a previous or current unit you are studying and use paint to copy and paste one small, but important section of the photo to display to the class in a powerpoint. In the next slide, show a little more of the photo. By the third or fourth slide, the whole photo should be revealed. The object of the activity is for the students to guess who or what is being shown in the photo before seeing the whole picture.
4) Interactive Read-Aloud - This can be done with a variety of different books, but "How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World," by Marjorie Priceman is a great one to use to teach about geography and locating coutries on a map. While you read the story, have students locate each place on a map and place a sticker on it. This is a great beginning of the year activity to review continents and countries.