There are thousands of iOS apps for children available, but which kids’ iPad and iPhone apps are really worth downloading?

Let’s take a look at a bunch of great iPhone and iPad apps and games that will keep the kids occupied and sometimes even educated. In the first of a series we’ll look at some of the best kids’ games app developers, and point out the apps to download.

The app people at developer Toca Boca really know kids. This Swedish games studio knocks out some quality kids apps. They have a playroom full of kids’ apps worth checking out – and a few are even free.

Each Toca Boca kids game features cool graphics and engaging, top-drawer animations, as well as fun but rarely annoying sound effects.

The games are really easy to grasp, often include play puzzles, and don’t feature pesky in-app purchases. Be warned, though… Once they’ve playes one Toca Boca game they’ll want you to download all the others.

My one niggle is that the games, while beautifully presented with engaging playing treats, are a lttle thin, and can be completed in under 10 minutes.

Luckily they’re so well done that kids will go back to them time after time.

Toca Hair Salon kids game childrens app

Toca Hair Salon - Toca Boca

Toca Hair Salon (£1.49; iPad and iPhone) – While this is most obviously aimed at little girls it’s just as much fun for boys, and parents too, it should be admitted. You get to cut, dye, comb, wash and blow dry various characters hair, with sound effects and the ability to take a photo at the end. This game can keep kids occupied for ages, and will save parents in those moments when they really need to do something other than entertain the little ones. The photos will start to clog up your Photos file, though, so some judicious deleting later is required. There's a free Christmas version available, too.

Toca House kids game childrens app

Toca House - Toca Boca

Toca House (£1.49; iPad and iPhone) – Kids (at least boys) don’t generally like to tidy up or clean, unless it means they can do it on your iPhone or iPad. Toca House lets them do the dishes, ironing and sweeping without getting their hands dirty. But remember that while they’re playing this game they’re not actually messing up your home…

Toca Kitchen kids game childrens app

Toca Kitchen - Toca Boca

Toca Kitchen (£1.49; iPad and iPhone) – what kid doesn’t like playing in the kitchen? Again this is more likely to appeal to girls but is fun for all the family – if a little too quick to finish.

Toca Monster Kitchen kids game childrens app

Toca Kitchen Monsters - Toca Boca

Toca Kitchen Monsters (Free) might be more fun for boys – feed the monsters, and they’ll let you know whether they like your cooking.

Toca Store childrens iPhone game app

Toca Store - Toca Boca

Toca Store (£1.49; iPad and iPhone) – Children love playing shopping as much as Mummy! With Toca Store they can be both shopkeeper and customer. There are 34 things to buy, a till that prints out receipts, and a basket for it all to go in. Again, it’s pretty one-dimensional after a few minutes play, but, oh, those few minutes can be so valuable to parents… And kids will go back to the game more than once.

Toca Tea Party iPhone app for girls

Toca Tea Party - Toca Boca

Toca Tea Party (£1.49; iPad) – One for the youngers ones (3-5 years old) Toca Tea Party is another favourite girls’ role-playing activity beautifully realized by Toca Boca. This game works well with the players and friends or just toys to play with. Ok, most of the time it’ll be parents pulled in to play.

Toca Robot lab

Toca Robot Lab - Toca Boca

Toca Robot Lab (£1.49; iPad and iPhone) – After all the girls’ games Toca Robot Lab looks like one for the boys but is going to appeal to a lot of girls, too; certainly my six year old. First make your robot from scrap metal, then send it on a flying mission to collect stars.

Toca Doctor girls game for iPhone and iPad

Toca Doctor - Toca Boca

Toca Doctor (£1.49; iPad and iPhone)  – Another obvious children’s game. Kids get to be doctor, examine patients and solve 21 puzzles. There’s also a Free Lite version to try out first.

Helicopter Ride kids game AR

Helicopter Taxi - Toca Boca

Helicopter Taxi (£1.49; iPhone; 3GS and later) – Helicopter Taxi is a bit different from the other Toca Boca kids’ games in that it makes the player move about a bit more, and that’s good news for parents unless you’re in a car or on a plane at the time. The player picks up rides in their chopper and the app uses augmented reality to show the journey taken. Like all the other it’s a lot of fun for a short time but will be picked up and played more than once.