Oranges In No Man’s Land – Planning Overview

Written by Dan

Last updated

As teachers, planning unusual and creative lessons can be challenging. To spark creativity in your classroom, why not explore Elizabeth Laird’s fascinating novel Oranges in No Man’s Land and the wealth of learning opportunities it presents?

Not only does this story cultivate valuable cognitive skills such as analytical thinking, but students will also grow to understand empathy toward characters from different cultures as they work through the challenges and conflicts of this powerful tale.

In this blog post, we’ll discuss an overview of how to plan for a lesson around Oranges in No Man’s Land that provides meaningful instruction for a range of grade levels and interests.

Related: For more, check out our article on The Machine Gunners by Robert Westall  here.

Oranges In No Man’s Land Storyline

Ayesha is a refugee in the war-torn city of Beirut, Lebanon, with no understanding of the conflict that forced her to leave her home. With her mother killed by a bomb and her father out of the country, Ayesha and her two little brothers must rely on their grandmother for support.

The three of them find a corner of an old flat to share with other displaced families, living day-to-day in fear of checkpoints and soldiers shooting at them.

Still, they find comfort in each other and their small community as they look out for one another and share what little they have. But despite such kindness and camaraderie, life remains a struggle—mainly when Ayesha’s grandmother runs out of life-saving medication.

Ayesha must now embark on a daring journey across town to find her doctor—navigating dangerous flags and risking her life at every turn.

During this challenging journey, Ayesha befriends Samar—a deaf child who has lost more than most in this conflict. Through Samar’s friendship, Ayesha begins to understand the plight of those often overlooked in war: the disabled people who are displaced from their communities without any means of protection or access to resources.

The story compels us to consider the horrors experienced by innocent people during times of violence and how we can unite despite our differences and strive for change even during dark days.

Key Themes in Oranges In No Man’s Land

Resilience and Bravery

Throughout the story, Tariq and Jinaan demonstrate incredible resilience in adversity. They must both cope with losing their homes and families while fighting to survive in a city constantly threatened by violence and destruction.

Despite these challenges, they come together to plant orange trees on the war-torn streets of Beirut—a symbol of hope that inspires others to stand up and fight for what is right.


The friendship between Tariq and Jinaan drives much of the plot in Oranges In No Man’s Land. Both characters feel like outsiders in this unfamiliar world, yet it is through their bond that they find strength and comfort in each other.

Additionally, friendship plays a vital role within the community as people look out for one another despite having few resources to share.

Finding Hope in Dark Times

The narrative focuses on a time when Lebanon faced massive upheaval, yet it highlights how kindness and solidarity can even be found in chaos.

By planting orange trees against all odds, Tariq and Jinaan can bring some life back into their city—reminding us all that hope can prevail even during dark times.

Key Characters in Oranges In No Man’s Land


Tariq is a young refugee from Palestine. He has lost his home and family due to the conflict, yet he remains resilient and brave throughout the story. He makes friends with Jinaan, and they plant orange trees together to bring some life back into their city.

Tariq is an inspiring symbol of hope and standing up for what is right, even during times of darkness.


Jinaan is a Syrian refugee who has also been displaced by war. She initially feels alone in this unfamiliar environment but soon bonds with Tariq and develops a strong friendship with him.

Despite facing danger at every turn, she stands firm alongside Tariq, determined to make a difference through their planting of orange trees.


Ayesha is another displaced child from Southern Lebanon. She has experienced significant loss due to the war, including her mother’s death, yet she still demonstrates strength and courage as she tries to provide for her two brothers and ill grandmother amidst the chaos.

Through her friendship with Samar—a deaf child—Ayesha begins to understand how war affects those that are often overlooked or forgotten about in society, such as disabled people who have no way of protecting themselves when communities are displaced.

Educational Opportunities from Reading Oranges In No Man’s Land

  • Discussing the importance of resilience and bravery in times of crisis.
  • Exploring the power of friendship and how it can help us find strength and hope.
  • Investigating the difficulties faced by refugees and displaced people in war-torn areas.
  • Examining themes such as justice, courage, compassion, and duty.
  • Analyzing how disability is perceived in society and why we should protect those most vulnerable during the conflict.

Lesson Plans

Lesson 1: Resilience and Bravery in Times of Crisis


To explore the concept of resilience and bravery during times of crisis, as illustrated in Oranges In No Man’s Land.


Begin the lesson by introducing students to resilience and bravery. Ask them to brainstorm different ways these two attributes manifest in our daily lives; this discussion should help students better understand what strength and courage look like in action.

After they have had a chance to think of examples, explain how these concepts are represented throughout Oranges In No Man’s Land.

Main Teaching Points:

The discussion should focus on characters who demonstrate courage and strength in difficult situations. Examples include Tariq, who is determined to make a difference no matter the cost, Jinaan, who stands firm alongside her friend even when it feels hopeless; and Ayesha, who works hard to provide for her family despite their many losses.

Please encourage students to think about why these characters act the way they do, what motivates them and why resilience and bravery often lead us closer towards justice or victory.


Ask students to consider how they can draw on their strengths during challenging moments—this could involve anything from writing a poem about their experiences or simply reaching out for help when needed.

This can be an essential moment for understanding how strength and courage come from within, even when it seems impossible to find either one.

Key Questions:

  • What does resilience mean?
  • Where does courage come from?
  • Who was the bravest character in Oranges In No Man’s Land? Why?

Lesson 2: The Difficulties Faced by Refugees & Displaced People


To gain a deeper understanding of challenges refugees face upon displacement due to war, as explored in Oranges In No Man’s Land.


Start by introducing students to the definition of ‘refugee’ while exploring some common misconceptions or stereotypes associated with this term (i.e., all refugees live in tents or need foreign aid).

Utilise visuals, such as photographs or newspaper articles if available, to help paint a broader picture during refugee life discussions.

Talk about how war affects individuals personally—these conversations should be used as jumping-off points for later discussions about refugee displacement in literature such as Oranges In No Man’s Land.

Main Teaching Points:

Analyse key scenes from Elizabeth Laird’s text which illustrate what it’s like for specific people groups when conflict arises—such as those with disabilities, women & children living alone without protection, and families struggling to feed their loved ones due to economic instability caused by warring factions vying for power.

Discuss common themes from reading this book—perseverance despite hardship, protecting those most vulnerable during times of change/flux—and see how they may relate to our lives today (i.e., community outreach programs aiding homeless/displaced veterans).


Brainstorm ideas with your class on ways we can each make a difference when it comes to helping those affected by war/conflict situations around the world (this could include volunteering at local refugee aid centres near you or donating goods that could be sent overseas).

Remind your students that although things may seem overwhelming or dire sometimes, we can always do something — no matter how big or small —to keep hope alive!

Key Questions :

  • What is a refugee?
  • How is disability addressed/seen differently around the world? -How might current events affect our ability/willpower to help others?

Books About Resilience, Bravery and Difficulties Faced by Refugees and Displaced People

-The Breadwinner Trilogy by Deborah Ellis -Inside Out & Back Again by Thanhha Lai -The Bone Sparrow by Zana Fraillon -Sixty Million Treasures: Stories From The UN Refugee Agency by Ana Eulate -The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind by William Kamkwamba

Website Resources

TES Teaching Resource

This website provides a comprehensive teaching resource on Elizabeth Laird’s novel, Oranges In No Man’s Land. It is aimed at teachers who wish to use this book in class, as it includes activities and guidance notes for teaching the text.

The site also includes extensive materials, such as worksheets, comprehension exercises and other resources, which can be used to build students’ understanding of the text.

Literacy Shed Plus

This website provides lesson plans for teaching Oranges In No Man’s Land and suggested activities designed to help bring the story to life in the classroom.

It contains ideas for activities around topics such as refugee rights and responsibilities, how refugees and displacement affect individuals, expressing feelings through art or writing, research into critical aspects of the novel and much more.

Pearson UK English UoW Y6

This unit of work focuses on Elizabeth Laird’s book ‘Oranges in No Man’s Land’ and explores the themes of courage and resilience through literature.

A range of tasks are provided that have been designed to support learning by encouraging students to engage with the text creatively – from drama and poetry exercises to discussions about immigration and international aid workers.

Additionally, there are opportunities for assessment built throughout the unit so that progress can be measured at each stage of reading development.

About The Author

I'm Dan Higgins, one of the faces behind The Teaching Couple. With 15 years in the education sector and a decade as a teacher, I've witnessed the highs and lows of school life. Over the years, my passion for supporting fellow teachers and making school more bearable has grown. The Teaching Couple is my platform to share strategies, tips, and insights from my journey. Together, we can shape a better school experience for all.






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