Historical reenactment is a marriage of education and role-playing games. Those who are involved with reenactment groups are dedicated to promoting an understanding of history. They are eager to teach what they know about the period they portray. And they like to meet and have fun with others who share their interest. There are tons of organizations for just about any period in history.
The Iron Age
Brigantia is an Iron Age Celtic reenactment group in Portsmouth, England. They demonstrate Iron Age (1000BC-43AD) life and warfare for schools, museums, and films, as well as for their own enjoyment.
The Roman Empire
This picture is from Caesar's Conquerors Historical Re-enactment Unit, a Roman re-enactor group in Maine. Legio XX, a Washington DC group, is expecting reenactors from across the country and around the world to attend their Roman Days, June 2-3 in Glen Dale, MD.
More reenactors, after the jump.
The Vikings of Middle England re-create the 'Dark Age' period between 793AD and 1100AD. The group is based in Leicester, England, and has amassed an impressive list of film appearances. See a video of the Vikings in action (warning: violent).
Although wars provide an action-packed show, not all reenactment groups are based on warfare. The Society for Creative Anachronism is an international metagroup dedicated to researching and re-creating the arts and skills of pre-17th-century Europe. The Kingdom of Atlantia is the southern US arm of the SCA. They have a full schedule of fairs, tournaments, and exhibits. See a video of Atlantians in action.
The Brigade of the American Revolution is an international organization with members portraying not only continental soldiers, but also the British, Loyalist (Tory), German, French, Spanish, and Native American forces. Members are spread all over the US, plus Canada and England. The above picture is from the Seige of Yorktown in 2006.
The Civil War
The Mifflin Guard Civil War reenactors have units spread over New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, and Maryland. They portray Union soldiers as a battalion of smaller units at reenactment events, and they work to restore and preserve historical sites, such as Fort Mifflin near Philadelphia.
If any of these groups have an event scheduled near you, make an effort to attend and take the kids. They will get a taste of living history that will engage them far more than any textbook. See a collection of battle reenactment videos through World War II at YesButNoButYes.