When Chris was going into first grade, PBS aired a television show that was put together by many notable figures called "Liberty's Kids." My son fell in love with it. It was a charming bit of historical fiction that REALLY brought out issues of the American Revolution and took the good and the bad and made it understandable to kids. This show became our 1st grade history curriculum.
When we saw a figure that we wanted to learn more about, such as Ben Franklin (voice by Walter Kronkite), Baron von Steuben, Marquis de Lafayette, Baron DeKalb (which is really cool that we live in Dekalb County now, and just south of Steuben County), Phyllis Wheatley (American slave poet), Benedict Arnold, etc., we would go to the library and get a biography on that character. We learned SO much, and I do mean WE.
In the middle of the year, we went on a field trip to a printing press museum in Hacienda Heights, CA -- part of the feature was an actor who gave a splendid impersonation of Benjamin Franklin. During that presentation, the kids were asked "What three historical documents did Benjamin Franklin sign?" Several knew the Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution. When the presenter asked "anything else?" my little six year old chimed in with "The Treaty of Paris." Jaws dropped, including mine.
Now, Chris doesn't remember a lot of what he learned that year, but it has provided a basis of knowledge for things that came in the future, and also, because it willingly addressed some of the tough issues regarding the Americans in a fair way -- such as Indian treaties, slavery, and many others -- it also kept him from being caught up in the way our history can be villified because it simply contains evil..when he became exposed to such things fairly early on.
I am thrilled to say that History Channel has started airing Liberty's Kids, right at the age where Maggie can enjoy it as well . We're also going to be picking up the computer game by the same name (now it can be bought for less than a $1 at Amazon.com). Chris also got a big kick out of that. I highly recommend it. It has James, Sarah, and Henri collecting information regarding different stories that happened by interviewing various characters. They then put together the clips using the "Who, What, Where, Why and How" format that is set up. If your kid can read, he can do this....and it is well done.