So what does all of this mean? Say you wanted to count the animals on a farm. First, you count the pigs. Then, you count the cows. You come up with 17. What if you counted the cows first? You would still end up with 17! This is the communitive property of addition.
So what's the difference between the associative property and the communitive property? Easy! Just remember: associative means grouping with parenthesis!
Let's apply the associative property to our farm animal example. Say we were going to count the pigs and cows, but the fence between them broke! They are now all grouped together. We count them and get 17. Then we add 4 chickens. The total is 21. Now pretend the fence between the cows and pigs was fine, but the one between the pigs and chickens broke. When we count all of the farm animals, we will still end up with 21. That's the associative property!