Modeling tools are commonly adopted in classrooms. However, complex state-based behavioral models still pose a challenge for students to understand and validate, mostly because of the intricate semantics of these models.We investigated this challenge and developed dedicated tool support in the form of a validation framework based on the YAKINDU Statechart Tools. Our validation framework simulates environments that interact with the code generated from statecharts as means to animate various open-ended scenarios and predefined test cases that challenge the students’ models. This enabled shorter and user-friendly feedback cycles, which lowered the barrier for students to learn state-based behavioral models. We designed the validation framework to be extensible and made it available as an open source project together with two example environments and complete teaching materials. We report on our experiences in two undergraduate modeling courses (approx. 100 students each). Our results are promising in a sense that we detected positive effects of tool adoption and surprising lack thereof, which we discuss w.r.t. lessons learned and future work.