I don't remeber where I got the idea for this project, but thanks to whomever gave me the inspiration. I have been doing this project for two years in my World History 10 class. Feel free to adapt, as I have, in any way you like.
I have students watch "The Agony and The Ecstasy", or you could read it with an upper level class, to get an idea of what Michaelangleo's life was like. The kids enjoy the love/hate relationship portrayed between Pope Julius and Michaelangelo. After viewing the movie, I introduce the project, explaining that the students will replicate chosen panels of the ceiling. I require that they recreate the panels "authentically", including painting under the tables.
The students are allowed to choose the panel they would like to recreate. Before painting, they must research the panel, find the Biblical story, read it, and write a one page report about the panel. (Length can be adapted based one level of research or students; mine is a mixed group.)
After the students have completed their reports, they begin painting, under the tables.
Students are graded on the basis of their participation, problem solving skills, and ingenuity, not their artistic ability.
Adapt and enjoy.